FL School Builds Acceptance and Service by Pairing Basic Education And Special Education Students
By Lanie Pemberton, Contributing Writer.
What do you get when you pair a passion for service with a desire to unify students of various educational levels? You get Best Buddies, a club founded by a teacher at Connerton Elementary School of Land O Lakes, Florida.
How does it work? Well, Best Buddies functions by pairing basic education and special education students together with the task of completing service projects around the Connerton campus. The founding teacher stated that the goal of the organization was to “prompt and foster lasting relationships for students with disabilities and their peers”. By uniting the special education students with their basic education peers, Best Buddies promotes understanding, positive peer relationships, and life skills. All this while fostering a culture of service and philanthropy in their community. Quite an amazing way to accomplish two extraordinary goals in one.
The club’s founder showed amazing insight by recognizing the need for understanding and acceptance of children with disabilities and by seeking to accomplish this understanding through service. Service changes people. It opens their hearts in a way that few other activities can. Many would argue that there is no better way to bond with another person than to serve by their side. This is why completing service projects together is the perfect solution to uniting basic education and special education students.
A $100 grant from Start A Snowball enabled the purchase of supplies that the kids could use while participating in the projects around their school. After just one academic year, the Best Buddies program was a huge success at Connerton. A club that started with just ten students grew into multitudes. At the beginning of the second school year, the program had so many students wanting to be Buddies that they had to do quarter shifts in order to allow everyone to participate. The founding teacher remarked that the club’s popularity was more than the school could have hoped for. Best Buddies successfully united Connerton Elementary school with its special education students.