Newer and Stronger Relations Formed


Olivia Haefner

Students with and without IDD playing with a parachute at Camp Courageous

Leeanne Mehring-Cruz, Feature Editor

 Kennedy’s Best Buddies program has participated in the Camp Courageous spring field trip for the past four years. The peer buddies go along with IDD students to participate in outdoor sports and activities, such as zip lining. This year students in Student Government will be taking the place of peer buddies that can’t make it, due to AP testing.

“Our hope is in participating in these kinds of unified activities that it leads  to new friendships, improved self esteem and positive changes in attitude,” Special Education teacher, Mary Gibney said.

Washington and Jefferson High School join with Kennedy to mix up groups of peer buddies and students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). This is a partnership with Special Olympics Iowa to commit to pursuing Unified Sports, student leadership and school wide awareness of intellectual disabilities.

“Our Best Buddies Club helps pursue this goal to build upon and promote to students the concept of inclusion and acceptance,” Gibney said. “Camp Courageous is one of the best activities that we do as a Best Buddies Club.”

At camp courageous these students know they are in a safe environment and are with people that care about them.

“[Camp Courageous] Gives them a day to have fun and forget about their school work,” Sadie Wagemester, jr., said.

Wagemester has participated in Camp Courageous for two years and is this year’s president for Kennedy’s Best Buddies program.

“[Camp Courageous is important] because they are able to work as a team,” Wagemester said.

Wagemester feels it is important for peer buddies to go because it strengthens relationships and she even got to see what the community does for people with IDD.

“It’s important for peer buddies to go as well because it’s really great being able to make new friends and form a relationship with your buddy,” Taylor Harmer, sr., said.

Harmer attended last year’s trip to Camp Courageous. During the trip, Harmer got partnered with a different buddy than her own and go to bond with the new buddy the whole time and it was overall a great experience.

“I think it made everyone happier [Camp Courageous] and more care free,” Harmer said. “It is a day of having fun with everyone and while you’re playing games it is easier to become closer to people.”