Blogs > Saratoga County Neighbors

News and upcoming events from your neighbors and non-profits across Saratoga County. Unless otherwise noted, all posts are press releases provided by the organization. Have something to share? Email Curated by Community Content Coordinator Aubree Cutkomp.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bridges to Skidmore program allows people with developmental disabilities to earn degrees

On Monday, Dec. 5, the ‘Bridges to Skidmore’ Program held their first graduation ceremony in Skidmore’s Murray-Aikins Dining Hall. Seven individuals proudly wore their graduation gowns and received a diploma after spending 4 semesters in the program. One of the Saratoga Bridges graduates will continue as a student advisor to the remaining students.

Michael Bruckner, who has a developmental disability and is employed at Saratoga Bridges blended vocational and volunteer program Alpha Community Opportunities, repetitively expressed his regret of not attending college to Jeffrey Moore, their MIS Coordinator. When Jeffrey relayed this to his wife Crystal Dea Moore, Skidmore Associate Professor in the Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work Department, an impetus for a new endeavor began. Professor Moore formulated the idea of bringing people to Skidmore in conjunction with her course on social work practice with individuals and families. She felt it would help students develop skills in communicating with diverse populations, raise disability awareness on campus, broaden the college’s connections to the local community and enhance Skidmore’s social and environmental responsibilities.

As Saratoga Bridges’ consumers began to truly enjoy the idea of learning, Professor Moore realized if the college shared its’ resources, Michael and his peers could engage in a real modified college experience she entitled, ‘Bridges to Skidmore’ College. She elicited help from Natalie Alvarez, a Skidmore junior and Intern at Saratoga Bridges to recruit students to make a commitment of attending lectures with individuals from Saratoga Bridges. The intent is to work together to overcome obstacles while providing socialization experiences. 10 participants and 5 Skidmore students participated in 30-minute presentations on a variety of subjects and topics presented by Skidmore faculty.

‘Bridges to Skidmore’ College has opened doors to a higher-level thinking and stretched cognitive capacities in a setting historically unavailable to people with developmental disabilities. It mirrors Saratoga Bridges philosophy of supporting individuals reach their greatest possible potential by striving to attain personal goals, promote independence, increase skills and enhance self-confidence. Additionally, ‘Bridges to Skidmore’ College helps to fulfill Skidmore’s mission related to civic engagement and diversity while addressing many of Saratoga Bridges’ strategic plan goals of providing innovative learning opportunities for the people they serve.

Moreover, many friendships have been formed and other collaborative initiatives have been developed. Michael has said, “It was a great experience! I learned a lot and I really, really enjoyed it.” A Skidmore student said, “This is the best thing I’ve ever done!”


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