Creative students with disabilities raise funds for the future

IDEAL is a creative academic program for students with disabilities interested in arts or film and media. Photo Submitted by The IDEAL Program

The Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy (IDEAL) program, announced a fundraising raffle through Instagram on Sept. 16. A person who donated any amount of money would get 10 entries in the raffle.

“We will be pulling from a list of names on Tuesday, [Sept. 29],” the Instagram post stated. “Everyone who enters qualifies for a chance to win a free photoshoot with @APVISUALS and IDEAL Swag.”

The campaign’s monetary goal is $10,000; as of Sept. 29, IDEAL has raised $2,165.

The Deal with IDEAL

IDEAL is an academic program at Georgia State for students with “mild intellectual disabilities,” such as cerebral palsy or high-functioning autism.

Isabel Gomez, a marketing team member, said that the program teaches “stuff like technology and the arts.” Hopes are that students “utilize these skills … outside of college.”

Students in the program are required to get internships and submit a digital portfolio of their accomplishments before they complete the program.

The program’s website, Faces of IDEAL, features a full gallery of students who are or have been enrolled in the program—11 faces in all.

One of these students is Nierra Dyer, who graduated this year. She majored in art and interned at both the Ernest G. Welch Gallery of Art and Design, and the Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

“I like to draw stories because I like to tell stories,” her profile stated. “[I like to draw] some TV characters too.”

Gomez said that the students have to really work to succeed.

The IDEAL program had a humble origin. Tyembi Tannis, another member of the marketing team, said it started as a trial run “with just one student, seeing how that would work out.”

As of Sept. 29, there are a total of seven students in the program.

“It’s grown a lot since then, so that’s pretty cool,” Tannis said.

The squad of seven has gone to the Georgia Capitol, created a gallery of artwork and played songs for children. Some students of the program have even interned at major companies like CNN.

“We try [to] connect them with all internships possible,” Tannis said.

IDEAL is looking for government grants for money. Tannis said it doesn’t have the means at this point to take in students of all disabilities, and it’s uncertain what the budget will be for IDEAL this year.

Fundraising for the Future

IDEAL hopes to invest in more technology with the money raised by the raffle, to help the students in their ventures.

Tannis said that if the fundraiser met its $10,000 goal, the money would go into a production studio— “a place for students to really come and work on [creative projects].”

However, if IDEAL doesn’t reach their goal, Tannis said that IDEAL would pay for whatever is the top priority, including Wi-Fi hotspots for the students and “any devices we can give them to help them through the semester.”