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HALO program celebrates 10 years

October 17, 2019

The Heartland Academy for Learning Opportunities (HALO) is celebrating ten years of providing students with developmental disabilities a pathway to independence.

Operated by Student Access and Accommodation Services, the HALO program provides a higher education experience for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and other learning challenges. The goal is to help students transition to the next level of independence in a supportive yet challenging environment. 

The program will celebrate their 10th anniversary during Disability Awareness Week, (Oct. 21-24). The highlight of these activities will be a HALO Open House on Thursday, October 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Student Commons Building 1802.

When launched in 2009, Heartland’s HALO program was one of only three in the state of Illinois, joining Elmhurst College in the Chicago suburbs and Lewis and Clark College in Godfrey. Today, HALO students come to Heartland from all directions, including Clinton, Peoria, and Pontiac.

“We were the central location, in the forefront, to develop a program,” said Barb Glover, Program Assistant for Student Access & Accommodation Services. “So many programs were being discontinued for students with disabilities, so the question was, ‘What do these students do after high school? What do they do after they turn 22?’”

Students pursue a variety of coursework, including: cooking, money management skills, reading, technology, math, social development, health and wellness, and independent living. Outside of academics, HALO students develop the soft skills necessary for successful transition to adulthood. Upon completion of the program, a non-degree credential is awarded.

Today, HALO partners with Bloomington-Normal-based agencies like Marcfirst and Bridgeway to connect students with job shadowing, job coaching, and career opportunities.

The media is invited to observe the anniversary celebration and discuss the event and the HALO program with Barb Glover and other attending Student Access & Accommodation staff.

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Written by: Steve Fast