Greeks raise money for special needs students

Oct 14, 2010

Crossing Points, the University’s transition program for special needs students, teamed up with Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and Kappa Delta sorority last week to raise more than $35,000 with a golf tournament at Old Colony.

The tournament had about 108 players.

Two professors founded Crossing Points in 1988. The program began with eight students, and today there are 25, said Amy Williamson, a Crossing Points teacher.

According to Crossing Point’s website, its purpose is to help students with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21.

“Helping others is a cornerstone of Alpha Tau Omega, and we were glad to help with the recent Crossing Points golf tournament fundraiser,” said Will Pylant, a freshman majoring in political science.

Williamson said the students participating in the program are still in Tuscaloosa City and County schools. Crossing Points is located on campus in Garland Hall.

Williamson said the students have a wide range of disabilities.

“Some have autism, some have Down syndrome, some are classified as developmentally slow,” she said.

She said students with special needs are allowed to stay in high school until age 21.

“This gives them a college experience,” she said. “Instead of focusing on academics, we focus on success in life after school.”

Bradley Kidd, a freshman majoring in business, said ATO chose to work with Crossing Points Golf Tournament as the freshmen pledge class community service project due to the fraternity’s close relationship with Betty Shirley.

Shirley is an active Kappa Delta alumna who has ties with many UA organizations including Crossing Points, said Margaret-Anne Dyson, a freshman majoring in public relations.

“Her grandson has mental retardation and was a student of Crossing Points a couple of years ago,” Kidd said. “He now works at the supply store at the Ferguson Center.

“The majority of the time served at the tournament was spent with the special needs students from Crossing Points,” Kidd added. “From just talking and hanging out with them, to driving them around the golf course meeting the golfers, my pledge brothers and I enjoyed our day with them,” he said.

Dyson said KD enjoys working with Crossing Partners through Shirley.

“We love Ms. Shirley, and we love Crossing Partners,” she said.

Williamson said the students are bused to campus Monday through Friday. She said the students are on campus from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m..

A typical day for students begins with class activities in various areas that the students need to focus on, Williamson said.

From 9 a.m. until noon, students go to job sites on campus and learn different employment skills. They then eat a 45-minute lunch in the classroom.

“Afternoons we focus on independent living or social skills,” Williamson said. “Sometimes we have people from the kinesiology department workout with the students one on one,” she said.

There are 44 volunteers who work with Crossing Points through Service Learning Pro, the University’s online website for volunteering.

Williamson said students also do practicums with Crossing Points, and the entire KD sorority is scheduled to help out the Spring Fling.

“It’s a prom-type thing where the fraternity decorates the Ferguson Ball Room and they dress up and dance with our students,” she said. “It really makes the students feel special. “It’s a great thing.”


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