Many teens and young adults with hidden disabilities such as specific learning disorders, ADHD, high functioning Autism and similar issues aspire to-and yearn for-greater success in higher education and community inclusion. Summer college-bridge or transition-focused programming, such as LDI’s Emerging Leaders Summer Academy, both address this need while providing excellent opportunities to develop and skillfully use life success strategies.

The Emerging Leaders Summer Academy is a collaborative private/public partnership between the Life Development Institute (LDI), an independent postsecondary program for higher education capable young adults with learning challenges, Phoenix Community College, a campus in one of nation’s the largest public community college systems and Northern Arizona University, a traditional public university located in Flagstaff, Arizona .

The 5 week summer initiative, housed at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, allows for discovery and articulation of personal, group, and societal values through community engagement. It opens the front door to a new world of possibilities and potential for contribution as a citizen that can’t be accomplished in a static, traditional or online classroom setting.

LDI’s summer program uses a strength-based common sense process that emphasizes what is expected of an average person to function in any given adult environment. This approach identifies a challenging set of goals that focus on situational learning and personal achievement necessary for all adults, not just those considered to have disabilities.

The Emerging Leaders Summer Academy successfully challenges the societal limitations placed on people who learn or behave differently as being less capable, not of leadership timber, and unable to make significant contributions to society.

Active engagement enables students to believe they can do better than they thought. Working within a group helps them realize they are doing better, and begin valuing and respecting other people’s diversity. Finally, they begin to look for ways that others can do better. As such, they begin the journey to what Peter Drucker calls a “universally education person.”