The Coronado Middle School Best Buddies program recently spent the day at the San Diego Zoo. The world renowned zoo cultivated a wonderful atmosphere for all of the excited students ranging from 6th to 8th grade.
Best Buddies is designed for one-on-one friendships between regular education and special need students. Its aim is for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to build leadership development and social mentorship. Club Advisor Jeremy Handysides, a Coronado Middle School Special Education teacher, has run the program for seven years. He expresses, “It’s a cool program because regular ed students come and eat lunch with special needs students a couple of times a month, and we go on community based instructional outings together!”
The group enjoyed walking around all of the animal exhibits and spending time eating a long lunch together. While exploring the wildlife, students engaged in a scavenger hunt. Overall, it was a fun day for everyone.
Mr. Handysides revealed his favorite part of the program is seeing how much growth comes from genuine friendships. His role is to mainly be an advisor while the middle schoolers converse and enjoy one another’s company. He went on to further illustrate how amazing it is to witness those with special needs develop towards their full potential, exemplifying qualities such as leadership in high school and beyond.
Currently, the club is en route towards pursuing new sponsorships. In addition, Mr. Handysides disclosed intentions to host a fundraiser in the near future. The last Coronado Middle School’s Best Buddies Fundraiser took place six years ago at the Aaron Chang Gallery and it was a huge success.