Over the years, Teresa Belluscio has had a lot of people ask her how to create an experience like HDI’s Summer Leadership Experience Camp.
Many have taken inspiration from it, she said. But none have managed to create something quite like it.
HDI will be hosting its seventh Summer Leadership Experience Camp July 12-15,2023 giving high school students with disabilities the chance to explore their options for choosing a career including a path for training or higher education.
“Camp is geared towards high school students with disabilities entering their junior or senior year,” said Belluscio, who is an HDI Disability Program Administrator. “Students who are thinking about or who have articulated plans to continue their education or training past high school.”
While it had always been held in person in its first few years, COVID necessitated finding a way to make it work virtually, and later years used a hybrid model with some students attending in-person and some attending online. HDI administrators found they liked the additional accessibility that having an online option provided and has offered it as a part of the camp ever since.
“We liked that because we felt like that was more inclusive for students across the state of Kentucky,” Belluscio said.
Students who attend will get the opportunity to learn more about higher education options such as colleges, technical schools and trade schools that includes furthering their education past high school. The camp will give them instructions in how to choose a school that’s right for them, what different types of institutions can offer and how to pay for college. Attendees will also hear about how to navigate some of the unique challenges that students with disabilities can face in higher education.
“We want our campers to hear directly from college students with disabilities about the experience of college”. We talk about academic accommodations and on-campus living that students might want to have and how to advocate for themselves. We offer a panel discussion that includes college disability resource offices discuss how to obtain services,” Belluscio said. “We want to prepare students for their transition from high school to their next step of education.”
“A lot of the students tried the climbing wall. Some of them that tried it had never done it before,” Belluscio said. “Some of the students who hadn’t tried it before found a lot of victory in doing this…I was amazed by a couple of the campers who would just try over and over. Every time they tried to climb, they got a little higher than the last attempt.”
The deadline for registration is March 31. The camp is sponsored by The KY Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and in-person campers should be Vocational Rehabilitation clients with an individual plan for employment in place. Virtual campers who are not clients will be asked to complete eligibility requirements. Apply at https://uky.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_79iWt1NRUaMfZqK.