WILBERFORCE — When Mancell Lytle needed a new wheelchair, he got it.
When the Wilberforce University graduate student needed a new car customized with hand controls, he got it.
And when the 23-year-old needed a new laptop, he got it.
That’s exactly how the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation is supposed to work and on Tuesday it became even better for Wilberforce and Central State students with disabilities.
The two Historically Black Colleges and Universities signed memos of understanding with OOD, expanding the College2Careers program into Greene County so students such as Lytle not only have what they need in college, but they also have the tools to succeed after college.
The program places a dedicated vocational rehabilitation counselor — Taleisa Jones at CSU and WU — in the disability services office on each campus.
“It means a lot to Central State University because we believe in diversity and inclusion,” said CSU President Dr. Jack Thomas. “We are excited to usher in this next-level era of access, independence, and pathways to success.”
The College2Careers program, now at 17 universities in Ohio, helps ensure students with disabilities have the support they need to complete their degree and/or credential, earn higher wages and meet the demands of the growing job market.
Jones has already worked with Lytle to receive the aforementioned items.
“One of our first goals was to help me get a new wheelchair, because the wheelchair I had, I had ever since 2012 when I started high school,” Lytle said. “I’ve always been told you do this, you’re going to get a new chair. I do what’s being asked and I never got a new chair. She was like, no, I’m going to do my best. OOD, were a really good company and we stand on our word.”
WU President Dr. Elfred Anthony Pinkard said they tell students, “You matter, we care, you belong at Wilberforce.”
“And today we are expanding that to say to our students that are differently abled, that we recognized that you bring a wealth, that you bring a talent, that you bring a specialness, and you bring a uniqueness to the experience at Wilberforce University and to every place, and every life you touch,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted called the expansion “long overdue.”
“We have made serving Ohioans with disabilities a priority,” he said, adding that those with disabilities make up an underutilized pool of talent.
“And I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” Husted said.
Approximately 1,500 students will be served annually by the OOD.
“Right now in Ohio we are creating jobs faster than we can find people to fill them,” Husted said. “There’s so much need with the growing economy. We have so many career opportunities out there that are going unfilled. This is a program that opens up new doors, new hopes and new dreams.”
New wheelchairs, vehicles, and computers as well.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4057.