For many years, our American culture has treated those with disabilities as the “outcasts” of society. Instead of being respected and included, they are often neglected and avoided. These people are valuable members of our society, but they are often treated as “lesser than” the rest of us who do not struggle with specific developmental disabilities. Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of this cultural mindset is that these people with “special” needs have a strong desire to grow as individuals and to learn valuable life skills that make them full-functioning members of society, but they are often not given the opportunity. In 2013, Steve Ziemke (Director of Beyond Limits College) became a part of the solution to this problem by creating a college program for students like his son, Brandon, with developmental disabilities. Beyond Limits College was founded that year on Bethany Global University’s campus where it remains today. His mission?
“(To see special needs students) have a blast in college, make some lifelong friends, and learn that God will love, lead, and keep them the rest of their lives”. – Steve Ziemke
This goal is accomplished in four key ways: Practical Training, BGU Classes, Life Skill Classes, and Student Life. Each student on our campus (including those involved in Beyond Limits) is given a Practical Training assignment (on-campus job) that they work in during their time on our campus. This gives students an opportunity to learn valuable skills such as working within a team, following directions of a supervisor, completing assigned tasks, and displaying a positive attitude. Beyond Limits students also participate in a few of our Bible and Theology courses alongside BGU students. This gives them an opportunity to learn more about the Bible and grow in their relationship with God. Additionally, participation in a standard classroom environment allows the student to learn more about social behaviors.
“I love seeing the walls of separation between people with disabilities and typically developing young adults melt away through real relationships” – Steve ZiemkeAs part of the Beyond Limits program, specialized courses in life skills are open to students. These classes teach valuable life skills such as buying food at the grocery store, cooking meals, doing laundry, balancing a budget, being a good roommate, etc. During their time in this program, students live in the on-campus dorms along with one other Beyond Limits student and two RA’s (trained BGU students). One important aspect of this program is the day-to-day interaction between Beyond Limits students and other members of our campus family. These relationships are so meaningful to everyone involved, as the Beyond Limits students add a rich vibrancy to our community.
“In the past, I didn’t really understand people with disabilities and didn’t know how to interact with them. But when I got to know some of the Beyond Limits students here and learned how to interact, I learned that they are people just like us. Sure, they have different limitations that most people, but we all have limitations.” – Brandon C. (RA for Beyond Limits)If you or someone you know would benefit from attending Beyond Limits College, applications are now open. We want to partner with you to see all barriers removed so that you can go beyond all limits in your life! Find more information at http://www.beyondlimitscollege.org/