A program for students with intellectual disabilities at the University of Oklahoma just got a little more accessible.
Sooner Works is now a recognized as a comprehensive transition program by the U.S. Department of Education, opening several new doors for students.
It’s the first program of its kind in Oklahoma or Texas to receive the certification.
“Sooner Works has been going fabulous,” OU sophomore Bo Cochran said.
The university ended its spring semester online due to COVID-19.
“I stayed at home with my parents and did classwork on Zoom,” Cochran said.
Sooner Works' students will return to campus with more opportunities due to the new federal certification.
“It allows students to apply for a federal financial aid, which then really helps with the cost of college,” program director Kendra Williams Diehm said.
“To our parents, post-secondary education options are fairly new,” assistant director Mindy Lingo said. “So, a lot of our families weren’t aware that this was an option so they don’t have that college savings that a lot of families do. This CTP has allowed another resource for them to access some financial help.”
The four-year residential program for students with intellectual disabilities places them alongside students in traditional classes, while also taking specialized courses to expand life skills and internships.
The program had to meet certain criteria to get federally certified.
“Making sure the kids are in as an inclusive environment as possible, not only academically but socially and in their internships,” Lingo said.
The program is also growing from three students last year to 11 this coming semester.
“I’m excited to be back in a routine,” Cochran said. “I’m going to continue as a house for a tri-delta house and continue my internship at Sooner Sports properties.”
Students will begin moving back to campus for the fall semester on August 11.