Best Buddies show their classmates how rewarding a diverse friend group can be
Educational Support teacher Trudy McMullin was encouraged to receive a huge response for last year’s Best Buddies Program, which aims to create friendships between people with and without intellectual or developmental disabilities, many of whom may have physical disabilities as well. The commitment involved giving up time outside during recess, which meant that a lot of students who’d signed up would fail to turn up for their volunteer shift.
“I gradually found out who my true Best Buddies were,” Trudy says. “The Grade 5 group remained true to their commitment, always supporting us on their assigned days. Knowing we were often left short, without a buddy to play with, they even popped in each day to see if the scheduled groups showed up.”
Adriana, Arianna, Viviana and Favour took their commitment to being Best Buddies even further, creating adapted games to meet the physical and cognitive abilities of students in the Educational Support III (ESIII) class for one of their group assignments. They researched and developed their knowledge about adapted play, asking questions to gather the information and equipment required to support the ESIII students with play opportunities. They would ask questions regarding visual and hearing impairments, physical needs and attention span.
“These girls considered each of my students needs, considering the adaptive furniture and equipment required to support them successfully in an inclusive activity.” Trudy adds.
Despite the pandemic keeping kids at home and out of school for the last few months of the school year, the Grade Five (now Six) group remained committed to the friendships they developed as Best Buddies, by sending video messages via the FlipGrid site in their Google Classroom.
“Hearing we’d been named Difference Makers of the Year was great, though we wish we could have celebrated together,” Arianna says. “We think it’s important that all students in our school feel valued and have friendships,” Favour adds. “Best Buddies are just like us — they just learn differently.”
“I look forward to the Best Buddies’ support in their Grade Six year with my class of angels!” Trudy says.