Ellie’s Expression: Students should support Best Buddies

Martez Marti passes a baton to George Zychinski in a relay at the 2017 Special Olympics. Photo by Ashli Wagner

Students in the Special School District (SSD) need to be more included in day-to-day activities at WGHS. They are excluded from the rest of the student body, and that’s not fair.
Often times, some students in SSD spend most of the day in class with adult teachers and other students in SSD.

According to the 2011/12 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, “Approximately 14.6 million children ages 0–17 years in the United States (19 percent) have special health care needs.”

This is a large group of students being excluded from the rest of the school.

Junior Francia Munoz is a big advocate for involving SSD students with students in general education classes. She is a part of the peer mentoring program, a group of students who help out in the SSD classrooms for one hour a day. It lets the SSD students befriend the WGHS students in general education classes and helps them feel more connected to the student body.

Through this program, she has become very close with the students and teachers.

“I love being a peer mentor and the students/teachers in the SSD are absolutely amazing,” Munoz said.

“I’ve made such special bonds with students in the SSD.”

To get more WGHS students involved with SSD students and make the special bonds, she has, Munoz has proposed a new club called Best Buddies.

“Best Buddies is a nationwide program/club that helps kids with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

It helps make bonds between general education high school students and kids in the SSD. We used to have something like it, back in the day, called ‘Circle of Friends,’” Munoz said.

“For Best Buddies at our school, we would meet once a week and talk about activities we would do with our buddies. I think it would be a great way for many students in the SSD to get involved with school activities and make new friends.”

Eleanor Marshall – Opinion Columnist

This is Eleanor Marshall’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year. She has been recognized for her work by JournalismSTL, MJEAand MIPA.

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