The Higher Visions for Education Program

The Higher Visions for Education Program (HVE) is a local program designed to enrich the independent living and social skills of adult students with Down syndrome. Since its founding in 2006, the program has invited 30 students with the same diagnoses, where they meet twice a week on the University of Denver’s campus.

The Higher Visions for Education poses for a group photo. 

Scott Quicke is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in counseling and education of individuals with intellectual disabilities. He is also the co-founder of HVE, along with Sally McCance, who has been working in the field of special education since 2004. 

Quicke came up with the idea for the program through his previous experience working at Adam’s Camp, a local camp designed for maximizing the strengths and potential for young adults with special needs.

“We really loved the work we were doing at Adam’s Camp, [and it was] a real success for a week and we were like, ‘okay, how can we continue this for a whole year?’”, Quicke said.

That’s how the Higher Visions for Education program came about. After the idea was formed, Quicke went to the Denver Adult Down Syndrome Clinic, who then sponsored the program, bringing thirty students with Down syndrome to the new class.

Scott Quicke, HVE co-founder; Peter Naffah (30), HVE student and DU Men's Hockey Manager

Each student in the HVE program has the same diagnoses; “and that’s kind of a unique thing about this class, it’s the only class where everyone does have the same diagnoses”, says Quicke. And that’s with thanks to the sponsorship by Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association. What’s unique about this experience is that the students get to see individuals with their same disability having successes in their own lives living on their own, and involving themselves with community work. 

One of those students is Peter Naffah, who works pretty closely with a few students at DU. Peter is the manager of the DU hockey team, and has been learning a lot from the DU community from working with the team and being a part of HVE. “[Higher Visions is fun.] We learn about eating healthy and being healthy, and to be healthy I need to work out - I work out at the YMCA and I have a trainer…", Naffah explained.

These interactions with DU’s community help Peter and the rest of the class grow together. In fact, that’s a goal set for the program - to increase its collaboration with DU. In the recent past, the Higher Visions students have teamed up with the DU cooking club, and have even displayed some of their artwork in the Shwayder Art Buildings’ student gallery.

Stephanie Guthels is a frequent volunteer within the program, and hopes to eventually become one of the teachers in Sally or Scott’s place. Working with HVE is Stephanie’s favorite part of her week, where she has been volunteering for a year now.

Stephanie Guthels, HVE Volunteer.

Stephanie talked about Sally and Scott’s plan for achieving the goal of involving the HVE students with the DU students. The first step is to work on getting the program more connected with DU: getting them credit to be students on campus, allowing them access to the facilities, etc. 

In order to do this, Sally and Scott have been in communication with the Colorado Department of Education, and “making sure they’re doing the things they need to get accredited as a real program”, Stephanie explained. 

With this goal set for the Higher Visions of Education program, we can be sure to see a lot more of the students on campus in the near future.