Building Buddies is an online friendship toolkit created by parents for parents that includes ideas, tips, links and materials to help facilitate friendships for children with various abilities. As parents, we envision our differently-abled children living in an inclusive world with real opportunities for genuine friendship. The toolkit provides parents and educators with resources to encourage natural and mutual friendships for children of all abilities. Learning objectives are based on the premise that friendship is an integral part of growing and living in an inclusive community. Participants will be able to: 1)Present and talk with your child’s class positively about your child’s strengths, abilities and differences. Emphasizing commonalities builds mutual understanding. 2)Collaborate effectively with your child’s teacher to foster friendships in the classroom. Friendship is an educational goal! 3)Facilitate a lunch bunch group to encourage lunch time socialization and friendship. 4)Gain ideas for how to take the initiative to set up play dates and social activities with typical peers. Breaking the ice can be difficult but rewarding for all! 5)Find online resources and articles on encouraging friendship for children of different abilities.
Jennifer Schowengerdt, Kelly Clark, Stacy Strombeck, Mary Wetherell, Sara Kroll-Franks, and Terry Penny