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IDEAL Summer Academy preps young adults with IDD for college, careers

Elise Kelsey  | 

Igniting the Dream of Education and Access at Lipscomb (IDEAL) held its week-long residential Summer Academy for students with intellectual disabilities June 3-8.

The Summer Academy served 18 campers ranging from rising seniors in high school to age 24. The camp provides guidance for those campers interested in learning about college and exploring whether post-secondary education is right for them.


IDEAL is a two-year program, housed in the College of Education, that provides young adults with IDD access to opportunities for growth and independence that promote inclusion, belonging and contribution. IDEAL Summer Academy gives prospective IDEAL students a week-long preview experience of the two-year program.

Campers were able to get a taste of Lipscomb campus life with social events, community volunteering, dorm life experience and college readiness classes. Camper Bailey’s “top desire has been to live in a dorm (and go to college) ever since she graduated high school,” says her parent, Dessie Bostick. Thanks to IDEAL Summer Academy, Bailey was able to experience dorm life and all other benefits of the camp.

Fun activities were planned for the campers like a nature walk at Radnor Lake, Nashville Sounds baseball game, visit to Frist Center for the Arts and bowling night. While campers were able to have fun, they also learned valuable life skills from guest speakers. Topics covered a variety of areas including “Making Nutritious Choices,” “Independent Living Skills,” “A Guide To Tech Basics” and “Career Interest Survey & Internship Tour.”

IDEAL is able to run such dynamic camps because of its great staff and leaders. The Summer Academy had a 2:1 student to staff ratio.

“The IDEAL staff and peer mentors are incredible. [They] are a rare breed of giving and loving people,” said Dawn Turner, parent of camper Anna. Anna came home a happier, more engaged young lady.”

“Your program has showed her that she wants to and can be connected with peers like herself and people who understand her. This is an answer to many years of prayer,” said Turner.

Bostick thanked the IDEAL staff for “seeing the person behind the disability.”

About the IDEAL Program

IDEAL is a two-year, non-residential certificate program that is designed to encourage and support students with ID/DD to experience college as their peers do. IDEAL students take classes, go to sporting events, complete internships, eat in the cafeteria, attend chapel and enjoy just being a college student.

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