A new club at Rock Island High School this year is creating an inclusive environment for students with disabilities.
The Best Buddies club matches a student up with a special education student who signed up to participate in the program.
One of the purposes of the club is to help those with disabilities to have social interactions and create friendships.
The students have face-to-face interactions with each other. They may eat lunch together, play games, talk during an advisory period, meet up in the community to do an activity, or even show up to their buddies sporting event to show their support.
Sometimes the club does group events too. Their next one will be in February. They are going to watch a movie and have dinner before they cheer on their best buddies at the Special Olympic basketball game that night.
The club is advised by Rocky teachers Stacy Rel and Lisa Martens.
Rel says Best Buddies has helped the special education students gained more self-confidence and has given the students a feeling of acceptance. She says it also has had a positive impact on the other students too.
“The Peer Buddies learn about disabilities and how it may impact the student's education but shows them that at the end of the day everyone just wants to be accepted and have a good friend. It really is such a positive experience for both the buddies and their peers,” said Rel.