Seneca Valley welcomes Best Buddies club
Seneca Valley will welcome a new organization to the high school this school year aimed at fostering friendships and awareness for students with disabilities.
The Seneca Valley School Board approved Best Buddies for club status this month. The district has been on a waiting list to get a chapter of the international organization for about five years, said district transition coordinator Jess Pyle.
Best Buddies is dedicated to establishing one-on-one friendships between students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and typical students. There are almost 1,700 chapters at middle schools, high schools and colleges across the world.
Chapters can open only periodically because of the organization's limited resources for training and development, said Best Buddies Pennsylvania program manager Heather Shiwarski. When opportunities open up, Best Buddies looks at schools on the wait list that have student interest and staff and administrative support in place for a strong chapter.
“That's really the key thing. It's simple, but important,” Shiwarski said. “You're committing to a person when you're joining Best Buddies. We want to make sure everyone is trained properly and has the support they need.”
Seneca Valley was notified in the spring of an opening, said Seneca Valley special education director Jerry Miller.
Students with no disabilities, called peer buddies, are paired with students with special needs, called buddies, for an entire school year, Shiwarski said. The pairs are required to meet at least twice a month, although they can meet more often if they'd like.
There are about 40 students signed up to be peer buddies, said Lisa Graham, faculty adviser for the group. Peer buddies will receive training from Best Buddies during the second week of school, and buddies will be paired off later in the fall, she said.
“We tell our students to think of your friendships with your best friend right now, it didn't happen overnight. So think about the things it took to build that friendship,” Shiwarski said. “If you can be a friend to someone, you can be in Best Buddies.”
The school's Best Buddies chapter will host group activities throughout the year for buddies to meet. The pairs can carve out their own time throughout the month to grab dinner, see a movie or go to a sporting event. The hope is to make lasting friendships between the student pairs, Miller said.
“Those friendships are hard to start initially because they appear to be different, but once students get to know each other they grow a true friendship,” Miller said. “They learn there's a lot more similarities than differences.”
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.