Young adults with cognitive disabilities experience BYU

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Students develop friendships with young adults that have cognitive disabilities. Volunteers help provide a fun BYU experience.
Programs like BYU Experience help students develop friendships with young adults who have cognitive disabilities. (Lauren Holbrook/Y-Serve)

Y-Serve hosted young adults with cognitive disabilities on the BYU campus on Friday, Nov. 4 as part of the BYU Experience program. The program allows students to provide a few hours of college experience to local young adults with cognitive disabilities.

The event took place in the Wilkinson Student Center. Y-Serve hosts BYU Experience twice a year — usually in November and March.

Abbie Palmer, a sophomore studying nursing, served as a volunteer program director for the event. She said Y-Serve invited college-aged people with special needs from all around the valley to visit campus for BYU Experience.

“This year we had one of the a cappella clubs perform, a mini devotional, a service project, a little dinner and then karaoke,” Palmer said. “We try to fill in different aspects of BYU that we get to enjoy that people with cognitive disabilities don’t really get to.”

The visitors might have had different circumstances and experiences, she said, but they were able to come together because of their similar ages.

“It’s fun bringing both of those sides of the spectrum together and having a fun night all around,” Palmer said.

Y-Serve president Josh Palmer said the guests were happy to visit BYU and form long-lasting friendships with students.

“They are all so excited to be here, as almost all of them are huge BYU fans and are some of the greatest, kindest people you will ever meet,” Josh said in an email.

Josh emphasized the importance of meaningful service and the difference it can make.

“Service is the balance we as college students need in our busy lives to remain happy and healthy, both emotionally and spiritually, throughout the semester,” Josh said.

Last year's BYU Experience was a Halloween carnival. People dressed up in costumes and hung out with Cosmo.
Last year’s BYU Experience was a Halloween carnival. People dressed up in costumes and hung out with Cosmo. (Lauren Holbrook/Y-Serve)

Acacia Jeppson was another program director for the event. BYU Experience was a reminder of the blessing it is to take part in BYU’s spirit on a daily basis, she said, and left students feeling uplifted.

“You can’t help but smile after spending an evening with new friends that are so genuinely enthusiastic,” Jeppson said in an email.

Jeppson said nothing but blessings come from service.

“From my own experience, serving gives me greater purpose. When I am looking for ways to help someone else and lift their burdens, my perspective changes,” Jeppson said.

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