Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC): Graduation to independent living

Last year, the UC Down Syndrome Center created a program in response to the need to open spaces so that people with cognitive disabilities can acquire tools that allow them to exercise their right to live independently. “Participating in the graduation, listening to their testimonies, knowing the experience of the teachers and sharing the emotion and joy of their parents has been an unforgettable experience”, comments the rector Ignacio Sánchez.

“At the Catholic University a graduation of great importance and symbolism has been held. The UC Down Syndrome Center created a program in response to the need to open spaces so that people with cognitive disabilities can acquire tools that allow them to exercise their right to live independently. Thus, the program has incorporated support strategies through which young people can access and maintain decent employment and manage their personal resources. The program lasts four semesters, and includes group and individual sessions, with theoretical-practical methodology, and simulation workshops. The beginning of an independent life takes place in the “Simulated House”, inaugurated last year in the East Campus.

The objective is to train adults in a situation of cognitive disability through theoretical-practical courses, to move towards an independent life plan incorporating some areas such as the development of their role as adults and their citizenship; job search; managing personal resources and carrying out activities of daily living. Along with these topics, teaching was given on human rights and citizenship; home maintenance; healthy food; health and self-care; finance management; health emergencies; independent life; among others.

“The objective is to train adults in a situation of cognitive disability through theoretical-practical courses, to move towards an independent life plan incorporating some areas such as the development of their role as adults and their citizenship; the search for work; the administration of personal resources and carrying out activities of daily living” – rector Ignacio Sánchez.

Three young people have graduated from this ceremony, who, in the first year of the program, had to adapt to the contingency caused by the pandemic. The classes began while in quarantine, so they had to learn to use zoom and digital platforms, then last year, they began their life together in the Center’s simulated house.

Participating in the graduation, listening to their testimonies, knowing the experience of the teachers and sharing the emotion and joy of their parents has been an unforgettable experience. The students who finished their first year accompanied them and are preparing to start their second year of studies and life together. They start a path for an independent future, that’s what true inclusion is.”

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