Driving to Glenmoore (in Pennsylvania) from Silver Spring (Maryland, US) was a soul-stirring experience. We were overwhelmed by the serene beauty of nature: lush green fields and serene woodlands. Our mission was to take a look up and close of the Learning for Life program for persons with special needs in the US.
We reached the green and verdant campus after three and half hours of drive from Silver Spring, Maryland. The Learning for Life program at Camphill Soltane at Glenmoore is a unique educational experience for young adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities.
The five-year post-secondary program provides learning opportunities in a number of areas, including classes and workshops in the humanities, academic and life skills, the arts, movement and vocational guidance.
Here many students are away from home for the first time and are surrounded by their peers 24/7 in one of the nine life-sharing households. “Students here have informal learning experiences in matters of the heart, cope with and work through conflict, learn from disappointments and rejoice in successes,” says Guy Alma, president of Camphill Soltane. “In short, this is how they grow up.”
Through the Learning for Life program, students here explore new ideas and expand their horizons. Gradually, they build up their portfolio of skills and social competence, becoming aware of their talents and addressing their weaknesses.
Throughout their studies, students are accompanied in the search for their own identity, as each learns to navigate his or her life’s path alongside others with diverse abilities and gifts.
Students are also encouraged to recognize and respond to the needs of others—both close by and around the world.
Speaking about the success of the Program, Alma says: “Teachers, coworkers, families, therapists and above all, the students themselves collaborate to achieve success.”
“Students’ wish to transition from adolescence to adulthood is a driving force for powerful inner change.”
What struck me about the place is the sense of well-being among the inmates, their zeal and passion for community living. The forward motion and upbeat attitude that pervade the place was incredible.
Each project in the campus seeks to provide a brighter, safer and more meaningful future for the students and residents with special needs, says Alma.