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Sandi Cole
Center on Education and Lifelong Learning

Elisabeth Andrews
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Friday, August 25, 2006

$1.3 million grant to IIDC provides service learning opportunities for youth with disabilities

Students will work with Veterans History Project to document oral histories

August 25, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University received a $1.3 million grant to engage youth with disabilities in community service opportunities, including collecting oral histories from veterans with disabilities for the national Veterans History Project.

The IIDC received the grant last week from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The new programs will target youth ages 14 to 21 in Indiana and two other states to be designated by the IIDC. The programs will involve schools, and implementation will begin this fall.

Project co-director Sandi Cole, who also is director of the IIDC's Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, said service learning programs are greatly beneficial to students with disabilities, who may have limited access to early work experiences and opportunities in their community. Such experiences are crucial in helping students identify career options and transition to adult life, she said.

"These programs will help youth with disabilities to feel engaged in their community and to build a reciprocal relationship that has a measurable impact on community life," Cole said. "Involving youth in the Veterans History Project will empower them to capture part of history through the voices of those who lived it."

Project co-director Teresa Grossi, who is director of the IIDC's Center on Community Living and Careers, said pairing youth with disabilities and veterans with disabilities will provide exceptional mentoring opportunities.

"Youth will have the opportunity to learn from veterans who have dealt with similar issues that they face as they finish school and enter the work force. Self-determination and self-advocacy will be a strong component of the programs, and this type of mentoring can help students develop these abilities, in addition to greater communication skills," she said.

Other components of the project include enabling youth to match their interests with service opportunities in areas such as education and public safety, and providing college-level curriculum for older participants.

Youth will also be involved in planning the program through advisory boards and state-level teams, Cole said.

The IIDC includes seven research and service centers dedicated to supporting meaningful participation in society by people of all ages and abilities. This new project builds on ongoing efforts by the IIDC to promote collaborative service learning opportunities for youth with mental or physical impairments.

Cole can be reached at 812-855-6508 or Grossi can be reached at 812-855-6508 and

More information on the IIDC is online at The Veterans History Project is online at