A middle school program is combining special and general ed students in some classes for physical education/art.

Soft SkillsAt Leland Middle School, 26 general education sixth and eighth grade students are choosing an elective where they help their peers with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities.

“They are very caring and nice and fun to hang out with,” said  sixth grade student Brionna Carr. “They are really good at what they do.”

The program is a success and is also offered in P.E. at South Brunswick Middle School.  Students with disabilities learn how to hold a paint brush and throw a ball.  But that real benefit is that isolation disappears as friendships develop.

“At Christmas they all exchanged gifts, and that was not prompted by us,” said P.E. teacher Joe Welliver. “Real relationships are created.”

Each student with a disability in adaptive P.E/art is paired with one or two general ed students.  The peer helpers are called buddies, and they work with the teachers to see what the student with a disability needs to work on.

Continue reading

Related articleSoft Skills