(image from https://www.bestbuddies.org)
What are the Best Buddies and Peer Buddy Programs?
Coonley’s Best Buddies and Peer Buddy Programs are student-run friendship clubs with activities throughout the school year for students with and without disabilities. Coonley’s Best Buddies program is a chapter of the national Best Buddies organization, and both programs help foster an inclusive school climate and a community culture of acceptance. The clubs recognize friendship and differences among their members. Buddies participate in activities both in and out of school, including in school socials, dance/game nights and taking part in the annual Best Buddies Friendship Walk. Coonley’s Best Buddies Program is for students in 5th-8th grades, and the Peer Buddy Program is for students in 1st- 4th grades.
How do students get to be Best Buddies or Peer Buddies?
Each year, students in select Neighborhood and Options homerooms are eligible to apply for the programs. The homerooms rotate from year to year and are determined by the rooms students from the special education program are included in for enrichment classes.
Applying for the programs is a student-driven decision. For both programs, students will need to complete an application and return it to their classroom teacher. For Best Buddies, students also need to complete the official national Best Buddies application by the deadline determined by Best Buddies.
Membership in the programs lasts for one year, and selection is determined by random lottery if there are more students than spots. Priority will be given to students who have not participated in the programs before.
What are the members’ responsibilities?
If selected to be in one of the programs, buddies should spend time together at least once per week at recess and lunch. Other duties can include walking buddies to or from class and assisting them (based on teacher permission) in enrichment classes. Students are expected to be good role models at all times for their buddies.
What can parents do?
If your child is selected to be in one of the programs, you can support his or her new friendship by talking about it and asking questions. Consider making arrangements for the buddies to spend time together outside of school, and encourage your child to continue the friendship after his or her time in the program ends.
Contact Ms. Barrett (email@example.com) or Mr. Povilaitis (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about the Best Buddies Program (5th-8th grades) and Ms. Johnson (email@example.com) or Ms. Grant (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about the Peer Buddy Program (1st-4th grades).