An Australian First – College for Disabilities Celebrates Inaugural Graduation

 In Our Stories

Based in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, STEPS Pathways College provides students with a disability a pathway towards independence and the opportunity to achieve their goals.

The College is Australia’s first intensive training course of its kind, and the individually-tailored learning options are designed to help students live a life of their own design.

Last month, STEPS Pathways College celebrated their inaugural graduation ceremony, with five students reaching their goal of learning the skills to live independently.

STEPS managing director Carmel Crouch said the day was one of the most proud days in her 30 years at the helm of STEPS.

“Having watched the College go from a concept to a buzzing learning environment and the first educational program of its kind in Australia, to witnessing the pride and joy on each of our graduates’ faces as they received their graduation certificates is incredibly special,” Carmel said.

“This milestone is a wonderful achievement for the whole community, made possible through the collaboration of so many people.

“I feel that we can all be proud as we witness our first group of students set out for life as confident, educated and informed young adults,” she said.

Graduates Tom Amarena and Ariana Nioa said they were both more excited than nervous about their recent graduation and what lies ahead.

“My goals for the future are to work in the media or IT,” Tom said.

“I am a bit shy, but that’s the kind of person I am, but since being at STEPS, I’m not as nervous.

“I loved subjects like geography, I am also really excited about moving to Melbourne after I graduate, I love the AFL and have cousins there,” he said.

Ariana said she’s looking forward to moving in with fellow classmate, Alana, after they both graduate, and working in office administration on the Sunshine Coast.

“My mum found out about STEPS Pathways College and my brother inspired me to come, he went to Uni as well and got his masters, I’m so proud of him and he and my mum inspired me,” Ariana said.

“Carmel inspires people with disabilities to be independent, I want to be independent out in the community, and get a job.

“I like budgeting, cooking and researching recipes, we had a nutritionist too that helped us plan meals,” she said.

Since opening in 2016, the college has seen considerable growth and now supports 9 students in the day program and 8 in the boarding program, with plans for future expansion now on the horizon.

The day program gives Sunshine Coast locals the opportunity to study independent living skills through the specially-designed curriculum.

Students gain practical life-long skills in combination with actual independent living experience while they either reside on campus in purpose-built homes or attend as day students.

During their stay, students are provided with a safe and supportive environment where they learn at a pace best suited to their needs.

STEPS Pathways College Manager DJ McGlynn said the flexible learning environment is a big drawcard for many young people with a disability, together with their families, who traditionally never had an option like this before.

Ariana’s advice to others thinking about enrolling at STEPS Pathways College is to ‘be confident and come look at the program.’

To find out more about STEPS Pathways College contact 5458 3000.

Image: H2H Studios

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