The Peer Buddy Program by C. B., Brookline, MA
The Peer Buddy Program is a community service program that was designed to provide a structured way to help students with special needs become more involved and develop friendships in the high school. This program matches special needs students with students in the high school. The basic idea is for the peers to spend time and have fun with their buddies. This is a flexible program which accommodates schedule differences. High school students can volunteer at almost any time: free blocks, lunch blocks, X blocks or after school. The time that is spent is memorable. The teams go together to sports events, clubs, after-school activities and luncheons, just to name a few.
The Peer Buddy Program is a wonderful opportunity. Peer Buddies not only learn about others, but also about themselves. Peer Buddies can see their own strengths and weaknesses from the time they spend with their buddies. This program helps them maintain their strengths while at the same time helps improve their weaknesses. The program instills leadership qualities and helps to build lasting friendships.
The main problem is getting students interested in it. I have tried different things to recruit students. I passed out Peer Buddy fact sheets at the activities fair. I passed more sheets to most of the freshmen homerooms. I posted giant posters and made several announcements. However, with all my efforts, I was disappointed to find only a handful of people showed up at meetings. When this happened, I didn't know what to do. Finally I got the names and numbers of Peer Buddies from last year and called them. Most said they would like to participate again, but were busy and would get in touch if their schedules changed. A couple of weeks later, I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of these people telling me they now had time in their schedules. Trying to get recruits was a learning experience. I learned that individual contact brings about more change than trying to tackle everyone at once.
The ultimate goal for me and my recruits is for us to be the foundation of the Peer Buddy Program. We must set the right example for future groups. They should continue our good work and also try to build and add to the program, making the Peer Buddy Program the best it can be.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.