The Options Program at Paul VIJun 16, 2011Recently, I was appointed by the Court to represent two young adults with Down's Syndrome. The cases related to their parents' guardianship petitions. If the petitions were granted, their parents would be able to make decisions for these adult children even though they are chronologically adults.
Both were remarkably poised and articulate. One spoke Spanish and English, the other was gainfully employed. They and their parents attributed this in part to Paul VI Catholic School's Options Program. This tweaked my curiosity. I made an appointment with the school to learn more.
Paul VI calls the program Options, since this is what parents of disabled children seek for their children's educations; integration into the community and jobs. There are now 10 Options student enrolled at Paul VI. Their educational abilities are addressed, social and vocational skills are stressed, but Options students are very much a part of the close-knit Paul VI community. The school's homerooms, electives and gyms integrate them into the regular school program. This year's graduating seniors overwhelmingly elected Options' students for prom King and Queen.
Paul VI students with intellectual disabilities become integral members of a school that would otherwise be closed to them. Students who have had no experience with intellectually disabled peers are afforded opportunities as well. Some later go on to become Special Olympic volunteers, start a Best Buddies, get degrees in special education.
Paul VI gets the idea of integrating disabled students into the community. The program is a win-win for everyone.
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