College recognized for program serving young adults with special needs

Lake Forest High School recently honored Lake Forest College with the Community Partner of the Year Award for a program that serves local students with special needs.

The award recognizes an outstanding area agency, institution, or business that has shown dedication to providing students with engaging opportunities to serve the community and to learn from their experience.

The College’s Office of Intercultural Relations along with the Gates Center for Leadership and Personal Growth and the Athletics Department forged a community partnership with the high school’s special education department to collaborate with them on their Transition Life Skills Program which serves young adults ages 18-21 with special needs. “The goal was to develop a program at the College to provide opportunities for social activity with college peers to enhance life and social skills for these students,” said Erin Hoffman, director of intercultural relations at the College. 

The resulting program, Intercultural Community Connections, brings young adults in the transition program to the College one day a week where they work out in the Sports and Recreation Center then have lunch with student volunteers who also facilitate activities, games, and sporting events.

“Our staff have appreciated the enthusiastic and dedicated support from the College in helping make this program a reality.  We have felt very welcome on campus and are looking forward to seeing the program grow next year,” said Jennifer Doerscheln, transition teacher at Lake Forest High School.

“Working with the students in the program was very rewarding for me and the other student volunteers,” said Kimberly Lopez a junior at the College. “They were so caring and always happy to see us and talk to us. We forged true friendships and had a lot of fun. It’s rewarding knowing your making a difference in someone’s life, simply by being there and caring.”