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Center for Disabilities Studies : Adult Services Initiatives : Total Life Project

Total Life Project

The Total Life Project is a model demonstration transition project developed by the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies for post-high school men and women with disabilities.  The mission of the project is to enhance the quality of life of individuals by promoting community inclusion, empowerment, choice, independence and pursuit of personal, vocational, residential and recreational goals.  Total Life focuses on all aspects related to transition – to living, working and participating in the community.  The university campus, Total Life house and immediate community is the training ground – a classroom without walls – where young adults gain experience and develop the skills needed to increase their independence and capacity for successful transition to adulthood as defined by the young adults and their families.

Students are young adults who are residents of Delaware. To participate, individuals and their families must be dedicated to increasing their independence, be willing to work and become involved in community activities.  Families and members of the students’ support network are expected to be actively involved in assisting the student reach their goals. Individuals must have their own health care coverage and access to the personal assistance they require to participate in the program.

The Total Life Project offers a unique post secondary educational experience. Through a process of collaboration, project staff assist participants to explore their individual employment, education, and recreation interests while supporting the development of independent living skills including vocational, self-care, self-advocacy, leadership, communication and interpersonal skills.   In partnership with project staff, each individual sets personal goals and develops an individualized action plan with the steps necessary to work toward greater independence.  Life coaches play a unique role providing encouragement, instruction, information and guidance to the students as they pursue the hopes and dreams they have identified in their person centered plan. 

The Total Life Project staff consists of a director, life coaches, volunteers, University of Delaware students completing externships, and graduate assistants.  These staff are joined by faculty and colleagues from the University of Delaware as well as representatives from other organizations to provide opportunities for inclusion and participation in University and community activities and events.

As part of the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies, research conducted through the Project. Research activities will include investigations about types of supports and services necessary to help persons with disabilities to be independent, how individuals with disabilities define quality of life, the perspectives of family members about services and supports, and what types of recreation, employment, and socialization activities persons with disabilities prefer.

Pre-service and In-service Training
The Total Life Project offers a unique setting for students at the University of Delaware and other schools to learn about adults with disabilities and the supports and services to experience greater independence. Students from high school, undergraduate and graduate programs work directly with the STUDENTS of the project and the professionals serving them. These practica and internship experiences allow for real world training and the development of a QUALIFIED workforce to serve adults with disabilities.

Note: The Total Life Project does not provide skilled nursing care, group or individual therapy of any kind, chemical dependency treatment or therapeutic services for acute or severe mental illness. Arrangements may be made for those services through state agencies or private pay. Total Life staff are not able to provide personal care for participants; however, participants are welcome to make arrangements for their own personal attendants.

Thank you to Micki and Lanny Edelsohn and the Homes For Life Foundation for their generous donation of the house on South College Avenue.

For more information

Debbie Bain