Originally sent November 3, 2008
I was 18 years old when I wrote this letter.
Honorable Congressman Donald M. Payne:
Rest in Peace Mr. Donald M. Payne
Hi, my name is Kevin D’Agostino from Hillside, NJ. I am now twenty-three years old. I have a disability – cerebral palsy – but I am very smart. I have graduated from a special education high school called Westlake. I am independent but not as much as I wish I could be. I use a wheelchair and a walker to get around.
I am writing this letter because I have an idea for a special education college. This could be a small college, such as a building with a few floors. It would be for teenagers who can’t actually go to college but want to learn how to be more Independent and continue learning more.
The money for taxes should be going to build a facility for helping teens who are in wheelchairs, power chairs, crutches, walkers, or simply just walking teens that are smart but either can’t afford the college or can’t be in college for some reason. We might want teens that can potentially be independent, but need a little bit of help learning how to do certain things. You might want to get some of the latest technology too if you want. You could hire some Special Ed teachers that works in a high school or maybe a college. Also you could hire speech teachers and professional Occupational and Physical therapists. You might want to find a dean to hire. You should hire some nurses that if the students/teenagers feels sick, they can at least go to them. If you don’t want to hire some nurses that could help them take a shower (if needed), then the students would have to hire their own nurse.
I want this building not only for me but for the other teens. I would like to help the teenagers to become more independent and to experience the life of a college student that they never otherwise would. This building would have stores, dorms, classes, and most of all therapies.
The stores, a library, and a cafeteria could be on the first floor. In the cafeteria, they will give you a food card. In the book store, they don’t only have books; they also have stuff that you need for your classes and for your dorms. A small pharmacy could also be included so that the students can get more prescription medicine if they need to. If you want you can put other stores. In the small library, it could have some computers and tables and a lot of books to borrow. Also if their roommate is too noisy, they can go right downstairs to study if they need to. Also the nurse office would be on the first floor too.
On the second floor, there can be dorms for the students/teenagers could stay in. You could have a choice for the 4 years you are there. You could have a roommate or you don’t have to. Also on the second floor there will be a lounge/game room. On this floor too you can experiment on washing and drying your own clothes with some help too. The bathrooms will all be handicapped accessible, including the showers. The bathrooms will also have two couches so that the wheelchair teens will be able to get changed on.
It will be the same scene as a real college dorm, but more handicapped accessible. The bed is on the floor and the desk is on the side. Some beds will have a handle to pull themselves up in bed. (if needed) The rooms will be big enough for two beds and another desk. There will be a small refrigerator in each room also to share. The other stuff you can bring from home.
The lounge/game room would have three love seats, a television with cable and if you want a few videogame systems maybe. A table where the teenagers could play board games and if they wanted to do there homework too.
I have a couple of rules too. You have to get changed before you go to your classes and go downstairs too. You have to have something on your feet except slippers. So you have to have either your shoes and braces on, your sneakers and braces on or even you could wear sandals to your classes or to go downstairs. Also there is no bed time; you will have to decide when you want to go to bed. So if you are late for your class, that’s your own fault. Water bottles is allowed in classes at all times.
The third floor would have all your classes. I have an idea for a couple of Math classes and a couple of Language Arts or literature classes. There would also be some teaching classes. There would be a Culinary Arts class, Art class, a Computer Animation class, educational class for students who want to be teacher, Office work class, and maybe a wood shop class. The art class would be on weekdays and on some Saturdays. On weekdays the art class would teach you how to draw better, also to teach them other stuff in art and on Saturdays there would be like crafts for them to do if they don’t have too much homework. If you want you can put other classes. You should plan stuff to do on the weekends too.
The therapies would take place in the basement. In separate rooms they would have two speech rooms, OT room and a gym where the physical therapies will take place. They could be the ones who could teach you to be more independent or they are the ones that would help you learn how to do stuff too. So if you can’t put on your shoes and your braces or you can’t brush your own teeth, they could teach you or try to make it as easy as possible so you can do it on your own.
I worked very hard on this idea and I want to see it built. I think it is a great idea, I sure hope you do too. I won’t push you to build this building but I just thought that I should at least try. If you decide to build this building you might want to get some transportation too maybe. Thanks for listening.