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Posted: 12 May 2006

Students with intellectual disabilities learn to fully participate as Irish citizens

12 students with intellectual disabilities who have been studying modules for a Certificate in Citizenship & Advocacy at outreach centres in Ennis, County Clare, paid their first ever visit to the UCD Belfield campus this week. While on campus they participated in the horticulture module, availed of the campus resources and met with fellow UCD students.

The Certificate in Citizenship and Advocacy, the first of its kind in Europe, was launched by UCD in March 2004. It is designed to give students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to experience student life at UCD. It was run over the academic year in block weeks, allowing for UCD tutors to teach their modules in outreach centres.

The students registered for the special O2 Ability Award Winning programme are from the Brothers of Charity Service in Co. Clare.

‘Through this programme UCD was the first university in Europe to open its doors to students with intellectual disabilities. It provides them the opportunity to be included with their peers in an educational setting’ says Anne O’Connor, Certificate Programme Director at UCD.

‘The programme gives students with intellectual disabilities the chance to exercise greater choices in their lives. It truly empowers them above and beyond the qualifications and skills that they can achieve’ continues O’Connor.

‘Other third-level institutions should see this programme as a clear example of how students with intellectual disabilities can be included’ says O’Connor.

The initiative combines the efforts of UCD Disability Support Services, UCD Adult Education Centre, UCD School of Electrical, Electronic & Mechanical Engineering, UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science & Veterinary Medicine, UCD School of Psychology, UCD Centre for Disability Studies and service providers in the area of intellectual disabilities.

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