Brownsburg East Middle School embraces program that promotes friendship

Indianapolis

Brownsburg East Middle School is embracing a program that promotes friendship.

Lindsey and Lydia are best buddies and have been friends for more than a year. It's a friendship made possible through the Best Buddies program.

"We pair students with disabilities and students without disabilities and basically, it's just a friendship club where we promote building a friendship throughout the year," said Shelly Waugh, Special Education teacher at East Middle School.

The school holds monthly activities for the buddies, but the program encourages students to make contact outside of school.

"That can be as simple as texting or a phone call it can also be like going to a movie or a ball game together," said Waugh.

The program teaches students to look beyond their differences.

Lindsey is non-verbal and communicates through her tablet.

"The kids have to be really creative on how they connect with those kids and get to know them better," said Waugh.

A total of 32 student participate in the program, which is now in its second year.

"There's more to these kids than their disability and that they can have friends and that they are people just like us," said 8th-grader Lydia Thomas.

"We have a friendship that is like probably better than some of the friendships I have with other people in my school which kind of amazed me."

Both Lindsey and Lydia thank the Best Buddies program for helping to make their friendship possible.

"The program is definitely more than I expected," said Lydia.

"It celebrates life with someone you love. My dream is to be friends forever," said Lindsey.

The Best Buddies program is currently in 1,500 middle schools, high schools and colleges worldwide and impacts nearly 700,000 individuals with and without disabilities.

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