Andrea F. Carter
The craft room at Michaels in Falmouth was busy Wednesday last week, November 30, as Best Buddy elves from Falmouth High School made holiday crafts during an after-school school activity.
The Best Buddy program pairs special education students at the high school with a general education peer buddy for activities outside of school.
“It gives everyone a chance, whoever you are, to have fun with someone,” said sophomore Riley Woods, who was a peer buddy last year as well.
This is also sophomore Delaney Crowell’s second year as a buddy, paired with 9th grader Madeline Methe from Kim Donnelly’s class.
“I really like getting to know them,” Delaney said. “They are awesome kids and fun to hang out with.”
“It’s fun,” Madeline said about the program. “Crafts are my favorite thing to do.”
As the two worked they spoke about Christmas trees.
“My tree is already up and full,” Madeline said.
The Kennedy family founded the international organization as an offshoot of the Special Olympics for those who are not interested in sports.
Ms. Donnelly, lead teacher of the Learning Center, has directed the program at the high school for 18 years.
“The only time my kids interact with general education kids is in school,” said Ms. Donnelly. “They have no activities so socialization is limited.”
Although Ms. Donnelly was overseeing the activity with teaching assistants Lorna Fretschl and Lauren L. Gallagher that day, the idea is that the buddies meet outside of school on their own, in some cases with parent supervision.
Students may go to movies. In October they went to a Harlem Globetrotters game and last Wednesday they discussed attending the Clippers state championship game.
“We try to get them together outside of school, buddy with buddy, [when] I will not be there,” Ms. Donnelly said of the planned Saturday night activities.
The activities help build a range of skills for these students who may have autism or Down syndrome or have a developmental condition.
“They learn social skills, communication skills and get the creative mind going,” Ms. Gallagher said.
Junior Hannah Buscher is the Falmouth Best Buddies president this year and is paired with Dominic Bonfatti, who has Down syndrome.
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