The best buddies program is a Canadian organization that runs in middle schools and high schools all across Canada. It is a program where a high school student is matched with a peer who has a disability. For the program Riverside has, leadership students spend one block each week with students in the skills program. Riverside has been running this program for ten years and this year they have between fifty to sixty skill and leadership students combined.
The students usually do fun things in the classroom, such as working on crafts, putting a puzzle together, playing board games and maybe even watching a movie.
“I think it impacts all the students in a big way. For the students in our skills program, it’s a time where they get to hang out with a peer that’s not a skill student,” said Ms. Linda McMinn, who works with the skill students. “They get to play games with, talk to, and just hang out, which is a lot of fun.”
McMinn went on to note the benefits of working with the skill students for the leadership students. “I think it’s really nice for them because it lets them have a time once a week to connect with someone they normally wouldn’t connect with. They’re not going to hang out with them in class or hang out with them outside of school, but they now have a time where they get to know some of our students. They get to learn how other students might communicate if they don’t talk and how they think might be very different from how the leadership student thinks,” said McMinn.
Their next field trip has not been planned yet, but their last field trip was a bowling field trip on Friday, November 4, which was a great success. The trip was an achievement because over lunchtime they walked from the school to the bowling alley, and some of the students are in wheelchairs. If the program raises enough money to do another field trip, they hope to go to see a movie.