Historically, our students are a segment of the population grossly underserved by engaging and stimulating programs. We are changing that reality.
At UCP, we promote inclusion, access, independence, and opportunities for community engagement and life‐enhancing programs. We create opportunities for our students to interact with the community in positive settings and nurture independence and personal growth. More importantly, our student’s lives are being enriched.
Our students have a profound impact in our community as they are able to share their talents and skills with those they encounter. With one full time nurse on staff, we are able to provide a day program for medically fragile adults who require a high level of care. We are the only adult day program in the Fresno area that affords these medically fragile students the opportunity to attend a day program.
Our innovative community‐based program recognizes that adults with disabilities are able to show measurable progress and learn with greater retention in a setting where they are able to utilize all of their senses and where they are fully integrated into the community at large.
In our community‐based integrated settings, students meet and learn from various professionals who represent a broad range of expertise. Students spend 50% of their week in the community‐based setting and 50% in the center‐based setting. Our community settings include the Sorenson Art Studio where our students create art alongside other notable Fresno artists. For each student, art is more than a form of expression, it is about refining motor skills, increasing cognitive functions, creating a place of peace and quiet, and gaining confidence. Students have the opportunity to sell their art which for many, this is the only opportunity to receive a paycheck. We are continuing to participate in ArtHop locations in Fresno. The goal in each show is to showcase our student artists while breaking down stereotypes often associated with those with disabilities. Additionally, ArtHops are another avenue for our students to sell their art.
Students work with members from the local theatrical community on performance art at the Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. This is also the space in which they perform once a year. We share space with Children’s Musical Theaterworks in Sierra Vista Mall. As part of the agriculture portion of the program, we have leased a third of an acre for a community garden. The American Horticulture Therapy Association reports that “people with physical or mental disabilities benefit from gardening methods that allow for continued participation.” Our students played an integral role in the development of the garden and now participate in various projects related to agriculture and gardening. They work alongside community members which include a master gardener and a local hardware store. Gardening tasks are adapted according to each student’s skills. The result is each student contributing in his or her own way while gaining a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence.
We have seen the positive change in physical abilities and mental stimulation of our students through our program. They are increasing their mobility, becoming a part of the larger community, becoming teachers and advocates and increasing their social sphere. More importantly, our student’s lives are being enriched.