I was on the verge of tears Monday: Will came home with a letter from school saying the he was nominated by his teacher to be a mentor in the Special Buddies program, to be a special friend to an IDD (intellectual & developmental disabilities) student. I am SO PROUD that his teacher has already seen Will's true heart of friendship for others & his incredibly sensitive intuition re: others' feelings and has chosen him for this fantastic socialization opportunity! I am just BURSTING that he gets this chance to empower his buddy and also grow his own heart even bigger. I am a total grade monger/honor roll freak, but honestly, this honor is more important to me than ANY test score could be!!!
From the program website:
Every child’s school experience plays a major role in their accomplishments and we are optimistic that every child can be successful both, academically and socially, as long as they are in a community where all children are valued and belong.
Our vision is to create an environment where differences are accepted and attempts are made to educate those who may be fearful or unaware in relation to the culture of disability. To ensure this type of setting exists at [our] Elementary School, our hope is to help increase awareness of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and teach all children to embrace differences and become caring friends. If we empower our children to make this choice, then we will instill the values of honesty, responsibility, diversity, respect, and social interactions.
Childhood has many challenges and these challenges are even greater when a child has a disability. Recognizing the opportunity we have to make a positive difference in our school environment, the mission of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me!” Special Buddies is to extend a caring hand to our children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
*To eliminate any fears or misconceptions that children who do not have intellectual and developmental disabilities might have about children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
*To provide children with IDD and children without IDD the opportunity to socialize. This will contribute to each child’s sense of purpose and self-esteem and provide positive skills for interpersonal relationships.
*To teach all children to embrace differences and become caring friends.
*To help all children learn that everyone has strengths, abilities, hopes and dreams and they each have something special to contribute to our school and community.