Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, and the Dan Marino Foundation, are planning a downtown Fort Lauderdale college for developmentally disabled students, according to a Sun Sentinel report. The college is looking to give student the real-world experiences necessary to prepare young adults with disabilities to make it on their own.
Marino's son, Michael, was diagnosed with autism in 1992 when he was two-years-old. Marino then founded the Dan Marino Foundation, focused on raising money for the developmentally challenged. Now, the foundation is looking to build the Dan Marino Foundation Vocational College, a first of its kind; post grade school institution for those with developmental challenges.
"We're here to teach the skills, provide the supports and reduce the supports as the program goes along," said Kerri Parmelee, the foundation's transition program director.
"We wanted to create something, much like a two-year community college, but it's totally focused on vocational," said Mary Partin, the foundation's chief executive officer.
The college would be located on the 400 block of North Andrews Avenue, and would utilize nearby apartments for students. The enrollment would cater to students from age 18 to 28, all of whom are diagnosed with autism, Asperger's syndrome, Down syndrome, or other developmental disabilities. The school is aiming to open in the fall of 2013, with a student body of around 60 for the first semester. The school anticipates an annual tuition of around $7500 for the two-year program, and would be divided into trimesters.
Currently, federal and state public services for persons with developmental challenges are only available until age 22 - the Dan Marino Foundation Vocational School would assist would be open to students who were too old to receive further services from the state or federal governments, whether they graduated high school or not. The foundation plans on continuing the social and job skill development of these students.
The State of Florida has begun working on legislation to add the school to the State's higher education system, with the State Senate's high education committee already passing the bill. In the mean time, the foundation is prepared to run as a private institution if they cannot get the designation.