College for Life students smile at the coffee station where they serve Bunkhouse Joe coffee.GODFREY - As we near the start of the fall semester, Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) is happy to highlight the College for Life program, which provides non-credit classes to students with disabilities.

Students over age 18 who have a documented intellectual or developmental disability or similar learning challenges are eligible for the program. Program Coordinator Roselyn “Rosie” Ellington explained that it’s a great chance for students to engage with campus life and continue their education past high school.

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“It’s a really fun program, and it’s also amazing because it’s so inclusive,” Ellington said. “There’s no program like ours in the area. And it’s called College for Life because students can come for as long as they want, and it’s a very good way for the students to also be involved in a college setting.”

More than 130 students are enrolled in the College for Life (CFL) program at LCCC’s Godfrey and Edwardsville campuses, and there are a few virtual courses available, too. The classes meet twice a week and cover a variety of subjects.

Ellington noted that students enroll in CFL with different goals. Some of them plan to pursue a degree, and they take noncredit, ungraded classes through CFL to prepare. Others are hoping to enhance their life skills or find more employment opportunities through additional education.

“There’s just such a wide range of reasons why students attend the program,” Ellington said. “A lot of our students that attend the program already have jobs, so they are finding a place to learn more skills and to socialize with friends and be a part of a college community…We feel like as a program it really also helps students to prepare for job opportunities out in the community.”

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In addition to their academic classes, CFL has some hands-on programs that teach different life skills. They recently concluded the summer gardening course, in which students learn how to grow, harvest and cook produce. CFL has also partnered with Bunkhouse Joe Coffee, a popular coffee vendor that does well at the Alton Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market every weekend. You can now get their coffee throughout the week at LCCC, sold and served by College for Life students.

CFL hopes to develop more community connections in the future. Currently, the Lynne F. Solon Foundation helps sponsor the program. This nonprofit provides scholarships, events and resources for people living with diabetes or other disabilities. When they learned of CFL, they were eager to get involved.

“Part of our basic mission is to help improve the lives of those dealing with diabetes and other physical or developmental challenges,” treasurer Bart Solon explained. “It’s a great relationship that we have with College for Life.”

Over the past few years, the foundation has provided sewing machines for a life skills class and funds to start the program’s garden, among other projects. Solon added that the CFL program is more than worthy of their support, and he hopes the foundation will continue to be involved in the future.

“Rosie Ellington and her staff are so dedicated to what they do,” Solon said. “That really makes it a pleasure for us to help support, because if you could just see the strong commitment that every one of them has for that program. It’s just a very worthwhile program.”

To learn more about LCCC’s College for Life program, including how to enroll, visit their official webpage.

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