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Holly FergusonNursing student Holly Ferguson says the BUILD program helped her to make a successful transition to university.

Program bridges the way to university success

A UWindsor program created to ease the transition to university for students with learning disabilities also provides opportunities for creating a social network of friends, say some past participants.

The Bridge to University for Individuals with Learning Disabilities (BUILD program) introduced her to people who would be facing similar kinds of challenges, says nursing student Holly Ferguson. She has a learning disability she describes as similar to what a layperson might term dyslexia.

“It takes me longer to read and get through school work,” she says. “Through the BUILD program, I got to see what Disability Services could do for me, what types of academic accommodation are available.”

She lists individual and group skills sessions, tours of the library resources, instruction in assistive technology and meeting the support staff among the program benefits. Ferguson was also was able to move into her dorm room a week early, giving her a chance to familiarize herself with the campus before the start of classes.

“Having the chance to meet people was the biggest thing,” she recalls. “The program includes social activities and tours of the city. It’s like an extra frosh week.”

Paul Cowan, who graduated with a degree in political science in 2012 and will begin pursuit of an education degree this fall, says he built “some pretty cool friendships” by joining the BUILD program.

“It’s an opportunity to get out there, meet people and start forming bonds,” Cowan says.

He says workshops helped to better understand the nature of his learning disability.

“BUILD gave me tools to learn what I am up against,” he says. “It explains your rights and also reminds you that you are responsible for advocating for yourself.”

Richard Hayes, a disability advisor in the Student Success Centre, says this year’s program runs August 25 to 29, and includes free residence and meals, as well as opportunities for social and recreational activities.

“During their participation in the BUILD program, students are provided with vital information and support through orientation workshops, peer mentoring, academic skills training, and one-on-one advising,” he says. “I encourage all new students with learning disabilities to look into joining us.”

The deadline to apply is August 8. Find more information, including an online application, on the program website.