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Threshold Program Encourages Educational Inclusion

Students who are new to Lesley may not be aware of the Threshold program, which provides a two-year on campus college experience for students with diverse learning challenges. Threshold has accessible housing for those with various kinds of disabilities; and it not only offers on-campus classes, but also provides job opportunities, such as working in Charlie’s.  The goal is to encourage greater independence, as well as providing other useful skills that are gained through working in a social environment. Threshold has a curriculum that teaches its students career techniques they will need for future jobs; and the program also provides everyone with enjoyable student activities.

Threshold is separated into three different programs. The 2-year certificate program, known as the Core program, is the main program students with a disability take when they enroll. There are currently 44 students in the program now. For post-graduates, there are two additional programs they can take. The Transition program lasts for ten months; during that time, students live off campus and look for paid employment. Students are also assisted with finding a roommate to live in an apartment with. There are 15 students who will be taking this next year.

The second post graduate program is the Bridge program, which is a 9-month program where students live on campus and work at internships 4 days a week. They also learn skills such as banking, cooking, and apartment living. A small number of graduates take this, since it is a program for post-graduates who feel that they still are not ready to live on their own, and they still need to improve on their social and independence skills. There will be 4 graduates enrolling in this program next year.

Ernst Vanbergeijk, the director of the Threshold program, emphasizes that there are multiple unique aspects to it. When I spoke with him, he told me that Lesley is one of the only universities to have its own unique alumni center for post-graduates with a disability, who need extra supports. Lesley University continues to make sure all of these students learn everything they need in order to live on their own and be successful. Also, Lesley University has one of the oldest continuing college-based training programs for students with disabilities. Director Vanbergeijk also explained how students in the Threshold program are currently learning social skills, employment skills, and independent learning.

Threshold has many success stories– and one good example is Blair Ward. He is a 2010 graduate and he currently works at Charlie’s on Lesley’s Doble Campus. When asked what he learned that was useful when attending the Threshold program, he responded, “That is a hard question to answer since I have learned so much. The main things I can take away from the Threshold program is that I learned to live on my own better and I learned how to cook better. I love the job I have here at Charlie’s.”

For more than three decades, Threshold has been making a difference for students who have learning differences, helping them to be more independent, to master social skills, and to work at jobs they enjoy.  For more information about what Threshold is doing, their website is

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