Villanova Community Unites in the Idea Accelerator

Earlier this Fall, Mimi Gabor (Class of 2020) and I were discussing our shared passion of Special Olympics which led to a more philosophical conversation about what Villanova has to offer and areas where we could still grow in the context of Disability Services. I shared with her a story that fuels my fervor every day: my friend and Special Olympics star, David Miller, dreams of being a Villanova student. I struggled to grapple with the idea that I’m here to pursue my dreams and feel he should be able to do the same. In her uplifting response, Mimi told me about her friend from home (Harry) involved in InclusiveU at Syracuse; an inclusive college experience program which acted as our initial model and resource when we started brainstorming the foundation that would later become VUnited. Our shared passion, relationships with friends like David and Harry, and incredible resources like InclusiveU, Disability Services, and the ICE Institute here have made this dream of ours a reality.

Now, the mission of VUnited is to truly embody Villanova’s core value “unitas” by encompassing a college experience, with both academic and social facets, for our friends with different abilities. Professionally, this program is designed to develop student independence, job reputability, and life skills. Personally, this program promotes friendships and celebration of inherent human dignity, access to education, and fun; there is no better place to host this program on campus than the Idea Accelerator. Each week, the Idea Accelerator transforms into our meeting place and classroom but the lessons and skills we learn carry far beyond those doors. Some of the sessions we have run include: money and math, health and nutrition, meal preparation, and public speaking. The space not only allows, but promotes, creativity and innovative thinking. We use the boards to brainstorm ideas, the smaller side rooms for individual attention and skill-specific stations, and the open layout overall to encompass a welcoming environment for everyone and their ideas.

I cannot think of a better place for an inclusive college experience than Villanova, both in and beyond the walls of the Idea Accelerator. I truly hope that VUnited can become an integrated, pivotal player in the student/campus experience and I look forward to being involved with VUnited as it continues to grow.