June 18, 2018
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Disabled students to visit UM campus

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Some area high school seniors with disabilities will visit the University of Maine in Orono next week as part of a program to show them an option for life after high school.

Cindy Tuck, transition coordinator for the Penquis Region of the Maine Transition Network, said Wednesday that one of the objectives of the organization’s youth leadership program is to make sure youth with disabilities are exposed to postsecondary education options.

The Maine Transition Network students — and any others interested — will meet at the university Tuesday for a two-hour tour that includes a visit to the Page Farm and Home Museum.

While some students in the program may not be capable of attending college, this is an opportunity to “expose them to a bigger environment,” Tuck said.

Some will “see this is a possibility,” she said.

High school seniors with disabilities need to plan for their move into adulthood, and the local Maine Transition Network program is designed to help them and their families, Tuck said.

The group holds programs throughout the school year, and holds monthly Youth Leaders’ Club events as a way for students with disabilities to meet friends.

Maine Transition Network is a statewide system for coordinating programs related to school-to-community transition for people with disabilities, ages 14-26. The free program, funded in part by the state Department of Education, covers employment, education, community participation, health services, housing and support and legal services.

Budget cuts made in the spring have forced the state’s six transition coordinators to make drastic changes to how they operate, Tuck said.

The law firm Eaton Peabody stepped forward when it heard the local agency was without a home and set Tuck up with an office in the Bank of America Building on Exchange Street in Bangor during September.

Tuck’s region encompasses communities within Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, and in years past residents from Bangor, Brewer, Hampden, Hermon, Old Town, Howland, Lincoln and Lee have participated.

“This year, one of the ways we’re saving money is by making each school responsible” for hosting a monthly youth club meeting, which are scheduled on the second Tuesday of each month.

The November meeting at Old Town High School will be on Nov. 10 because of the Veterans Day holiday the next day. it will focus on why students should be active in individualized education programs.

A complete list of the Maine Transition Network programs is available from special education teachers and directors at any area school, at the www.mainetransition.org Web site, by e-mailing Tuck at ctuck@mainetransition.org or call her at 951-3311.

Anyone interested in participating in the Oct. 14 event may contact Tuck. Students are responsible for the $1 admission for the Page Farm Museum.

“This is an opportunity for them to see what’s available” after high school, and it’s a fun social event, Tuck said. “We’re killing two birds with one stone.”

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