WXXI AM News

Best Buddies program matches students of all abilities

Feb 6, 2017

There's a new program in the Rochester area designed to create new opportunities for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It's called "Best Buddies" and it's run by a global, non-profit organization.

Local program manager Lindsay Jewett says this program was established in a number of area schools in the last several months, and it pairs up students who have intellectual or development disabilities with their peers who don't have those same disabilities.

“It’s really giving them the opportunities that they may not have had to go to the movies, to go bowling, to have lunch with somebody that they may not have been able to before.  For the children that do not have an IDD (intellectual or developmental disability) it opens up their eyes to what other people live their lives like, what opportunities they have , what limitations sometimes they have that’s not due to their own disability, but due to the structures that they are in, whether it be schools or the community.”

About 20 local schools are already participating and Jewett says Best Buddies hopes that someday it can actually put itself out of business.

“We really want to not have to exist but we really want the schools to be more inclusive, we hear stories about how classrooms are in the back of a building, or kids didn’t even know there were kids with disabilities at their school, so we really have to bridge those gaps that naturally have existed.”

The new local office of best buddies was made possible with a $300,000 from the Golisano Foundation.

This story was produced by WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, focusing on disabilities and inclusion. You can find more stories at WXXINews.org.