Going to college is a rite of passage for most young adults. It marks a time of transition into adulthood; of gaining more independence, developing friendships and forging your own path. The college experience, as a whole, allows students to:
- Discover their passions
- Gain important life skills
- Learn about the world around them
However, the opportunity to experience college can be non-existent for many, especially for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The L.O.P.E.S (Learning Opportunities for Participation and Engagement in School) Academy at the Cardon Center was inspired by Don and Kim Cardon to invite participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities to experience college life at Grand Canyon University (GCU). GCU is a private, Christian university, located within a gated community in Phoenix, AZ.
The mission of L.O.P.E.S. Academy at the Cardon Center is to provide an inclusive, immersive Christian university experience for individuals with moderate intellectual disabilities focused on finding personal purpose through academic, social and job skills development for successful, independent living.
Our Academic Program
L.O.P.E.S. Academy partners with Grand Canyon University (GCU) to provide a two-year program in a fully inclusive, Christian environment.
Each course in the L.O.P.E.S. program is seven weeks, with participants taking two courses per 15-week semester (fall and spring). Each class meets twice a week for one hour.
L.O.P.E.S. participants can look forward to taking foundational courses designed to provide the knowledge and skills they need for more independent living. These courses include:
As we know, college is not all about academics. In fact, the skills and experiences students gain outside the classroom is just as important for their development and independence.
As part of the L.O.P.E.S. Academy program, participants are able to dive deeper into the typical college experience based on their individual interests and skills. Here are some fun activities and opportunities participants can anticipate in our program:
- L.O.P.E.S. Buddies: Each L.O.P.E.S. participant will be matched with a GCU student as a guide and support partner throughout the program. Depending on the participant’s interests and needs, these mentors can serve as a lunch buddy, workout partner, academic tutor and/or event planner.
- Chapel Events: GCU holds weekly chapel services for participants to come together to worship and hear from God’s Word. Our Worship Team engages participants in music, and speakers from across campus and throughout the Phoenix area come to share truth as they teach from the Bible.
- Clubs: GCU offers over 90 clubs and organizations with the goal of providing participants with an unforgettable college experience. We encourage all our Lopers to visit a club with their buddy.
- Guest Speakers and Workshops: L.O.P.E.S. Academy will provide regular hands-on workshops and guest speakers to help participants learn about various topics, such as career exploration, health and wellness, life skills and more.
- Sporting Events: If you love sports, GCU has something for every fan. From basketball and baseball, to soccer, swimming, tennis and volleyball, you can cheer on the GCU Lopes throughout the school year.
Future Looks Bright
We understand that young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have just as much to gain from the college experience as their peers. The L.O.P.E.S. Academy is here to help you get started on your journey toward more independent living.
For further questions about the L.O.P.E.S. Academy program, please contact Heidi Boldway, director of L.O.P.E.S. Academy at the Cardon Center, at [email protected]. To apply to the program, please submit your application below and our program manager will follow up with you shortly.
Although the Lopes Academy at the Cardon Center is a non-credit and non-degree program, it prepares participants for successful independent living.