Living with disability is no obstacle to realising your dreams

10 September 2015

Inclusive Education student at the University of Sydney, Chris Bunton, is proof that living with disability is no obstacle to realising your dreams.

University of Sydney Australia
Chris Bunton (centre) with his student mentors Christophe Rowe (left) and Robert Murphy (right). (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

In a film produced by AttitudeLive, Chris describes his busy life balancing a demanding gymnastics training regime with part-time work at Special Olympics Australia, coaching young gymnasts at YMCA Penrith, and studying at the University of Sydney. The 22-year-old won gold in gymnastics at both the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai and in the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens.
Chris Bunton is one of 10 students currently participating in the Inclusive Education Program (IEP), a pioneering two-year scheme run by the Centre for Disability Studies that gives people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to explore further education at the University of Sydney.
Established in 2012 by Professor Patricia O’Brien, the unique program is modelled on an initiative she introduced at Trinity College Dublin’s National Institute for Intellectual Disability. Now in its third year, the program has grown from five students in 2012 to include 10 participants, who have the chance to study subjects as broad as Greek mythology to health nutrition.
“The Inclusive Education Program gives participants the chance to gain valuable skills, from confidence-building to lasting friendships with their student peer mentors,” said Clinical Professor Vivienne Riches from the Centre for Disability Studies.
“Students build practical abilities like researching but also expand their intellectual horizons, helping them to follow a passion for learning and become more independent as they experience university life.”

IEP students can select up to two units of study each semester, attending lectures and optional tutorials. Supported by the Centre for Disability Studies, IEP students are partnered with a current University of Sydney student mentor and work toward completing individual projects.
“I really like expanding my knowledge. I’ve learned lots and it’s really good information, the lecturers are great,” said Chris, who is studying digital business innovation this semester.

Learn more about studying at the University of Sydney!