UI REACH Program provides college experience for students with intellectual disabilities

Published: Feb. 1, 2017 at 6:43 PM CST
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19 year old Carter Fridly was over the moon when he recently got a long-awaited letter.

In a video taken by his parents, Carter is shown jumping for joy after learning that he had been accepted to the University of Iowa's REACH program. REACH, or Realizing Educational and Career Hopes, is a program designed to give students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities their own college experience.

"Our goal is to help each individual student become as independent as they can become," said Pam Ries, the director of the REACH program, "Some of them need the academic boost so they can become successful in a career. Some of them need the social skills and executive functioning skills and some of them need to learn how to get a job and how to keep a job."

Carter's dad, Chris Fridly, said he was very proud of his son.

"We didn't expect his reaction to be quite what it was. We knew he'd be happy but that was pretty cool," said Fridly, "They have actually rigorous, rigorous schedules just like any other college. They live in the dorms with the regular students. I think the fact that he's going to learn how to live independently and becoming a self-advocate for himself is going to help him throughout his life."

Nathan Tindell is currently enrolled in the REACH program and he said it's a great experience.

"I've been learning like how to live on my own and learn how to get full time jobs" said Tindell.

He said UI REACH is a fantastic fit for students like Carter.

"I'd say it's going to be a fun experience. You guys are going to love it and you guys are going to learn a lot of things" said Tindell.

Students who enroll in the Reach program don't get a diploma, but they do get a certificate of achievement. The director of Reach says 80 percent of students in the program finish with a job.