It’s All about Buddies
During our collaboration with the local high schools, we have come to know many students who have the desire to be peers and give of themselves by creating specialty buddy activities, such as Cheer Buddies, Basketball Buddies, and others. The HDS Foundation also supports these types of activities because they create natural awareness and relationships needed by many of this youth. Not only does it provide indescribable happiness and feeling of accomplishment to those who are challenged with many of these disabilities, it creates a solid foundation of empathy and commitment from those peers who are driven to help.
At Cypress Bay High School various activities have been launched. Four years ago, the Cypress Bay High School Cheer Buddies was created. Alexia Alter, a freshman cheerleader took her love of cheerleading and created a mentoring-friendship program which addresses many of the social and mentoring needs of Special Needs students. As a nominee of the prestigious Silver Knight Award in 2013, Alexia continues to mentor rising cheerleaders to ensure that this program continues in High School. The HDS Foundation has collaborated on many activities related to Cheer Buddies as it provides a great vehicle for students to learn from others, to model appropriate social behaviors in large groups and the like, and will strengthen the student’s abilities to better engage in work-related scenarios later on. This program built community awareness of learning and ability differences.
In 2013 Cypress Bay High School Senior Annie Leiman was awarded the Silver Knight Award for Drama which included the development of the S.T.A.G.E.S. (Special Theater and Arts Group for Every Student) project. Alongside Senior Paige Novie, and other student assistants, this buddy-arts program provided special needs students the ability to perform on stage, and utilize this medium as a method of self-expression which included singing, dancing, musical instruments, and other activities which promote self-expression. This is a critical skill (expressive language) that many students with IDD have difficulty with, and that is so important in being able to communicate later in life; post-secondary education, or future employment being two examples. The program also addressed many self-confidences building skills, and engagement in a variety of different locations and groups, which also develops peripheral skill sets too. The program was a huge success and built awareness within the community.
Today the HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. students hosted a Friendsgiving Luncheon with special friends from another class, staff members, and administrators. Everyone was treated to a delicious smorgasbord of their favorite traditional Thanksgiving foods cooked by a personal...