The Bonner Program is proud of the diversity of the service programs that are available to first-year students when they participate in Community Engaged Learning (CEL) days. This year students had the opportunity to partner with local organizations and municipalities to clean illegal dumping sites, tutor adolescent and adult learners, and assist in the construction of family homes.
A unique opportunity for first-year students to complete their CEL requirement is through participation with TCNJ Bonner Scholars Ability Team. This experience includes two four-hour days with participants learning about Disability Rights, Ableism, Disability History, Unified Learning, and reflection. TCNJ Bonner Scholars Ability Team partners with Arc Mercer, (https://arcmercer.org/) is a grassroots, family focused organization dedicated to creating opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to achieve their goals. They provide those they serve with the resources, support, and services needed to reach their highest level of independence regardless of diagnosis, and at all stages of life.
The Unified Learning portion of the CEL experience is an inclusive classroom activity which the Ability Team facilitates on the TCNJ campus. Unified Learning allows all participants to be held to the
same classroom standards, and gives all students valuable exposure and social skills with each experience and allowing them to develop relationships with individuals they may not meet in their everyday lives. Dividing the CEL experience into two separate days, allows students to re-evaluate and reflect more on their experiences. For many CEL students, this is their first interaction in an inclusive setting, and often it changes their learned social perceptions regarding disability.