It’s only spring, and the folks at My Possibilities are already having an historic year. In January, Plano-based My Possibilities (MP) announced a merger with the honorable North Texas establishment LaunchAbility. And the newly formed super team officially moved into its newly constructed Campus for Higher Learning May 7. It is the first college-style campus in the United States for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD).
My Possibilities has been working toward its new 3601 Mapleshade Lane address for more than 10 years.
The journey to the My Possibilities Campus for Higher Learning began in 2006 when a group of concerned parents of high school graduates with disabilities, led by Charmaine Solomon, found that there was not a program or facility in North Texas that offered full-time post-secondary education for their children’s needs. Within two years, these parents rallied the community and My Possibilities was formed in 2008, serving 10 students.
To understand the importance of the new campus, it’s important to understand a little about the IDD community and how people’s lives are changed through education and integration into the workplace. MP reports that more than 250,000 North Texans have disabilities, and that only half of these citizens have jobs. The collective half that does not work typically requires $47,000 in taxpayer assistance. In addition, Texas does not rank high on the list when it comes to supporting people with disabilities.
“In one of the worst funded states in the U.S. – Texas is ranked 50th – an educational campus like this means that great things for people with disabilities can happen anywhere,” said My Possibilities Executive Director Michael Thomas. “We are proud that the first of its kind is right here in North Texas.”
The student body at MP consists of adults with conditions such as autism, Asperger’s, Down syndrome, head injuries and many more. At MP, the students are affectionately called HIPsters, or Hugely Important People.
The goal at MP is to optimize the life of each student, so that he or she lives individual, independent lives. Through vocational and trade school training, My Possibilities succeeds in turning individuals into investments in the community.
Over the past 10 years, My Possibilities has grown like a determined goldfish, rapidly outgrowing its previous two locations. Last year, MP served more than 400 HIPsters per week. That’s 40 times more than in 2008.
Even prior to opening of the grand campus, My Possibilities has attracted students from across the country and state. Many families actually move to North Texas so their children can attend the organization’s extensive programs.
This new campus was designed to accommodate an array of disabilities, and to provide superior pedagogical and physical education. Upon total completion, facilities will include a culinary arts education building, an outdoor sports complex, a community garden, a STEM lab, a therapy room, a life skills classroom, a cafeteria and a beautiful outdoor courtyard.
At the My Possibilities Campus for Higher Learning, more than 700 HIPsters will engage in a two-pronged approach in a state-of-the-art, multi-building facility. Since no other college of its kind exists, part of the process will also include creating its own accreditation. The hope is that future graduates from My Possibilities Campus for Higher Learning will be known far and wide for the college’s pedigree and success.
Part of MP’s teaching focuses on socialization. This is where students learn things like the importance of personal space, how to confidently greet people and shake hands. Students may also receive art instruction, music lessons and one-on-one attention with trained therapists.
The second part of My Possibilities’ curriculum focuses on securing careers for students. HIPsters learn the necessary skills required to perform a job that suits their specific disability and personal goals and ambitions. They also learn skills that can help them live on their own and thrive independently in society.
Without continued education, adults with IDD often have little opportunity to realize their potential or to gain necessary skills that can better their lives. The My Possibilities Campus for Higher Learning will be the first continuing education campus of its kind, dedicated to transforming disability into livability.
Creation of a dedicated Campus for Higher Learning is a phenomenal success for My Possibilities, and a sign that its goal to be synonymous with higher education for adults with IDD is not only achievable, but inevitable.
Photos of the new campus:
The price tag for phase one of the first continuing education campus of its kind is $25 million, much of which is still being raised. If you would like to learn more about contributing to the My Possibilities Campus for Higher Learning, visit mypossibilities.org/campaign.My Possibilities >