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Making ‘Best Buddies’

The Best Buddies group at Labrador Straits Academy has a lot of fun taking part in the Hooping it up event last week.
The Best Buddies group at Labrador Straits Academy has a lot of fun taking part in the Hooping it up event last week.

Inclusion and empathy are two things Maisie Groves feels every child should know about.

The instructional resource teacher at Labrador Straits Academy in Lanse au Loup used that thought to begin searching for an organization to help her special needs students socialize with others in the school.
She came across Best Buddies Canada, a not-for-profit organization that encourages friendships and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
“I guess I was looking at some way that I could foster that kind of connection,” Groves said last week.
She found the organization through the Newfoundland and Labrador Autism Society website. When she clicked on the icon, she was excited by what she read.
“I said, ‘This sounds fabulous.’”
The intention of Groves’ chapter is to create lasting friendships between her special needs students and others in the school. There are seven active members in the Best Buddies group at Labrador Straits.
The program matches children with disabilities with children that don’t have disabilities.
“We do different things, get involved with activities that kids without disabilities often take for granted.”

Take a shot
To some, shooting a basketball with some friends could be something simple. For someone with a disability who may not have someone to play with, they may not have the opportunity to do it. This is one of the events that members of Best Buddies, and students throughout the school with a chapter, can take part in together.
On Wednesday, the school hosted a “Hooping it up” fundraiser. This allowed students of all ages and all backgrounds to take part in a free-throw competition.
For a small fee, students attempted to sink as many free throws as possible in one minute. Some 150 schools across Canada got to participate, including four in St. John’s. Labrador Straits is the only school outside the capital that is part of the Best Buddies program.
Kindergarten to Grade 6 students could not participate in the official fundraiser, but still got to take part in the event.
Three students between Grade 7 and Level 3 won first place in their categories. Tyler French won the top male prize, Danielle Fowler earned the top female, and Karrie Thomas took home the title of Top Buddy. All three earned movie passes and have had their names submitted for a possible $500 cash prize from the organization.

Game changer
The money raised from the event will go towards the school’s Best Buddies chapter, to allow the participants to take part in activities, like skating. The funds will help cover rental fees or added costs they may incur.
“Hopefully we can now organize more activities,” Groves said. “We can do things now that we can do as a group.”
It’s been a big game changer at the school, she added, noting the students are enjoying the interaction.
“It’s brilliant,” she said. “It’s going super well. I would recommend it to any school.”
Besides the obvious friendships that she can see developing, Groves is also seeing the students gain that empathy and understanding of inclusion that she intended to teach them by signing on to the program.
“For the kids without disabilities, they develop empathy and compassion,” she said. “Sometimes students with a disability don’t have the same opportunities with social connections. This way, (group members) can be friends with each other.”

Melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

The instructional resource teacher at Labrador Straits Academy in Lanse au Loup used that thought to begin searching for an organization to help her special needs students socialize with others in the school.
She came across Best Buddies Canada, a not-for-profit organization that encourages friendships and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
“I guess I was looking at some way that I could foster that kind of connection,” Groves said last week.
She found the organization through the Newfoundland and Labrador Autism Society website. When she clicked on the icon, she was excited by what she read.
“I said, ‘This sounds fabulous.’”
The intention of Groves’ chapter is to create lasting friendships between her special needs students and others in the school. There are seven active members in the Best Buddies group at Labrador Straits.
The program matches children with disabilities with children that don’t have disabilities.
“We do different things, get involved with activities that kids without disabilities often take for granted.”

Take a shot
To some, shooting a basketball with some friends could be something simple. For someone with a disability who may not have someone to play with, they may not have the opportunity to do it. This is one of the events that members of Best Buddies, and students throughout the school with a chapter, can take part in together.
On Wednesday, the school hosted a “Hooping it up” fundraiser. This allowed students of all ages and all backgrounds to take part in a free-throw competition.
For a small fee, students attempted to sink as many free throws as possible in one minute. Some 150 schools across Canada got to participate, including four in St. John’s. Labrador Straits is the only school outside the capital that is part of the Best Buddies program.
Kindergarten to Grade 6 students could not participate in the official fundraiser, but still got to take part in the event.
Three students between Grade 7 and Level 3 won first place in their categories. Tyler French won the top male prize, Danielle Fowler earned the top female, and Karrie Thomas took home the title of Top Buddy. All three earned movie passes and have had their names submitted for a possible $500 cash prize from the organization.

Game changer
The money raised from the event will go towards the school’s Best Buddies chapter, to allow the participants to take part in activities, like skating. The funds will help cover rental fees or added costs they may incur.
“Hopefully we can now organize more activities,” Groves said. “We can do things now that we can do as a group.”
It’s been a big game changer at the school, she added, noting the students are enjoying the interaction.
“It’s brilliant,” she said. “It’s going super well. I would recommend it to any school.”
Besides the obvious friendships that she can see developing, Groves is also seeing the students gain that empathy and understanding of inclusion that she intended to teach them by signing on to the program.
“For the kids without disabilities, they develop empathy and compassion,” she said. “Sometimes students with a disability don’t have the same opportunities with social connections. This way, (group members) can be friends with each other.”

Melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

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