NU Students dine and dish with CIF Residents

Each fall, Northwestern University Professor Emeritus, Dr. Paul Arntson, teaches a course called "Community Integration of Labeled People." Enrolled students examine local integration initiatives, representation of disability by the media, the influence of language, stories from families, and the role of the social service system. This year, 70 undergraduates signed up for the class to better understand issues in community integration for people labeled "disabled."

Over the past several years, Dr. Arntson has contributed his time and expertise toward the development of Center for Independent Futures' community organizing process to create supported, community-based living options for individuals with disabilities. In turn, Center for Independent Futures has provided several guest speakers who share their experiences working to build an inclusive community for people with disabilities with the students in Dr. Arntson's class.

At the end of October, residents of CIF’s four Community Living Options (CLOs) invited the students to join them for an evening of food and conversation. CLO residents told their stories and shared their experiences living independently as part of the CIF community. One Northwestern student reflected, “I was glad to learn that the residents do not look at themselves as people with disabilities, but as people with a lot of different abilities.” Another student related, "One of the main takeaways I got from today’s visit was the importance of community.”

During the course of the evening, NU students had the opportunity to ask questions and share their own stories about going away to college. The similarities revealed sparked further conversation around interests and passions. “I think it is important that we do not limit a person's abilities and future by labeling them as different from us,” concluded one student.

The evening was a great learning experience for the students – some of whom had never shared a meal and conversation with people with disabilities. It also proved to be fun, engaging, and meaningful for all who particpated. We will hope for a repeat next fall!

Upcoming Events & Activities