STATEN ISLAND LECTURE ON COLLEGE PROGRAM FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Thursday, April 23, 2009
By KIAWANA RICH
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Melissa Riggio, who died at age 20 a year ago this month, had Down syndrome.
But her legacy belies her all-too-brief life: She inspired shelves of offerings about special-needs children in Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide; she wrote about her life with her disability, and she collaborated on songs with British singer Rachel Fuller and the legendary Pete Townshend of the Who.
The work she inspired continues with the creation of the Melissa Riggo Higher Education Program. An exploration of the city-based program will be the featured topic during the April 30 Willowbrook annual lecture, “Opening the Doors to Higher Education to Students with Developmental Disabilities.”
The 4 p.m. lecture will be presented in the Archives and Special Collection of the library of the College of Staten Island, Willowbrook.
The 17th annual event is coordinated by leading scholar and Willowbrook historian, Dr. David Good.
Good said Miss Riggio’s parents and Barnes and Noble CEO Steve Riggio and his wife, Laura, established the program, which allows students with developmental disabilities to take non-credit classes.
“The purpose is to take students with intellectual disabilities and provide them with a college-level experience,” he said. “It’s actually a great program. And it’s a program that’s been wanted for a very long time by parents on Staten Island.”
There are at least five students in the CSI program that began in September.
Presenters include Dr. Carole Gothelf, director of individualized supports, city Association for the Help of Retarded Children, and Matthew Weiler, director of the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program, AHRC.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 718-982-2310.