Amazing things are happening all summer long at New Albany – Plain Local Schools. Summer Academy is up and running at full steam. Over the course of the summer we will work to bring some of these classroom experiences to life. Summer Academy is about enriching the educational experience for our students and teaching lessons that are valuable in and out of the classroom.
One of the NAPLS District Goals is the focus on reinforcing a positive Student Culture and this is really what was at the heart of this class offering the Helpful Buddy Bunch. New Albany Schools Intervention Specialist, Jill Young and two assistants hosted a “peer buddy” camp for students with and without disabilities to learn to work together, develop social skills and form relationships.
“This is the first time we have offered the camp, and the response and interest has been wonderful,” said Ms. Young. “We had a truly amazing group of young people involved, and I am amazed at what we witnessed in terms of their interactions and the care and support they have shown for one another.”
The Helpful Buddy Bunch directly teaches play and social skills to children who may not otherwise learn these skills naturally through inclusive activities with typically developing peers. Typical role models learned leadership and communication skills while developing empathy and understanding as they served as a peer buddy to one student with a disability for the duration of the course. Each half-day session included direct instruction on social skills or mentoring a peer with a disability, relationship building activities, cooperative student-led activities (such as a craft or cooking) and naturalistic play and social interaction in an inclusive setting.
“I was motivated to offer the camp because I witnessed how stressful it was for many of the families I worked with during the school year to find enriching summer activities for kids with disabilities,” said Ms. Young. “There don’t seem to be a lot of options, and often the camps are across town or only for students with disabilities. Parents of students with special needs often want their children to attend summer activities with both children with and without disabilities.”