The Activate Program strives to expand the places where our neurodiverse students belong, have a space to build their own identity and network of community, and feel they have pride in themselves and their diversity. You can read more about Activate in the information on this page or click on these links:
The Activate Program includes one-to-one weekly coaching, paid mentorship opportunities for students in the group, GWNN (a self-named weekly connection group), monthly dinners and events, a designated daily lunch table, and Snacks & Chats (weekly discussions around college transition subjects).
Activate offers a number of supports for our neurodiverse students including:
- 1 to 1 Coaching: Weekly meetings with an Accessibility Services staff member provides students with a point person for questions and help in navigating the nuances of college life.
- Activate Mentors: Paid positions are offered to returning Activate students to mentor new Activate students, providing a rich, welcoming and safe first-job experience.
- GWNN Group: GWNN, a self-named student group, meets weekly to play board games and socialize as a group to foster belonging and relationships among its members.
- Lunch Table: To help tackle the challenge of where to sit in the cafeteria, an Activate mentor hosts a designated lunch table in the Sak each day of the week.
- Snacks and Chats: Accessibility Services staff and Activate mentors hold weekly discussions around college transition subjects such as time management or communication with peers and faculty.
Who is the Program For?
- Merrimack students who identify as autistic, on the autism spectrum, or Asperger’s.
- Merrimack students without an autism diagnosis who may exhibit similar behaviors and benefit from Activate.
Autism as Part of Neurodiversity
“If you have met one person on the autism spectrum, you have met one person on the autism spectrum.”
This is a wonderful saying that captures the array or spectrum of our students. Autism is more like a trend of similarities noticed in the world’s neurodiversity than a fixed set of features. Given certain environments or situations, an individual on the autism spectrum may exhibit a variety of behaviors. However, there is such a vast array of how this plays out in someone’s life.
Neurodiversity is the fact that we, all of humanity, are different neurologically. This diversity increases our ability to thrive, innovate, and relate to one another. One area of neurodiversity is autism, Asperger’s, or other diagnoses or characteristics. Our Activate program for autistic students (and students not diagnosed but could benefit from Activate) is dynamic and adaptive, involving these students themselves in the development process and grows to support our students’ changing needs so that all of our neurodiverse students have a place here at Merrimack.
DREAM stands for Disability Rights Education Activism and Mentorship, see more information about DREAM below. The DREAM - Merrimack Chapter is led by students, for students. We would love for you to join us and help us promote pride and community!
To learn more, you can email Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A National Program
National DREAM is a part of the National Center for College Students with Disabilities, under the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission includes the following: “DREAM advocates for student rights, increased accessibility, social and policy change, and aims to provide support and mentorship to local campus disability groups and individual students.”
A Network of Support
Our program builds relationships with peers in a variety of ways, including mentorships. Being a mentor can involve anything from getting coffee, going to a sporting event or being a friend. We try to partner people with similar interests as much as possible.
For First-Year Students: This is a great way to start off your year and meet other students. College is a big transition and this is a great opportunity to do this transition alongside someone who has had similar experiences as you. If you are interested in being part of the mentorship program, please go to the First-Year Student Mentorship Sign-Up.
For Returning Students: There are two types of mentorship options. One option is being a mentor for incoming freshmen. The other option is being a peer mentor alongside a sophomore, junior or senior. In this case, peer mentors are both mentors and mentees to one another. If you are interested in being part of the mentorship program, go to the Returning Student Mentorship Sign-Up.
The 4th Annual All Abilities Awareness Week, titled “#diversability” was hosted by The Accessibility Services Office and McQuade Library to engage members of the Merrimack College community in building awareness of disability, diversity, access, and inclusion.