Kent ISD takes peer to peer groups to white caps baseball game

Local Peer to Peer Group Goes Out to the Ballgame…

Dear mom,
I have so much fun at the Whitecaps.
I sang the 7 inning stretch song.
I watched the game.
I saw a new part called The bubble drawl.
It’s where the bubbles charge after each other.
I can’t wait to talk about the Whitecaps.
I love you.
Your son,
G.S.

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On May 18th, 2016, almost 400 local students boarded buses and went to Fifth Third Ballpark to watch the Whitecaps game.  To most this seems like a normal school field trip, but for these students, it was the chance of a lifetime.

For the past decade, Kent ISD has been working with local districts and charters to  develop and implement Peer to Peer Programs (P2P). P2P is a program that pairs a student with special needs with a general education student, who will model typical social and academic behaviors and provide greater opportunities to access the general education setting and curriculum. In many of the districts, there are so many general education students that want to be involved,  that the special education student is paired with more than one peer. The peers interact throughout the day in recess setting, lunchroom setting, and classroom settings where applicable.

This is the second year that Kent ISD has organized an outing  to see the Whitecaps for the P2P students. This year 389 students attended the game. There was a total of 8 districts represented (including two charter schools).

One of the schools that attended was Grandville Public Schools. They began their P2P Program in 2010/2011 school year. Since then P2P has grown exponentially and they currently have approximately 400 students from 3rd – 12th grade participating. Each building level program meets weekly during lunch to eat together and enjoy a social activity.  They also host two district-wide events each school year: P2P Bowling and P2P Family Night.

“Our staff has witnessed the benefits of P2P every year.  We see mentoring relationships form at first. Eventually, they grow into authentic and lasting friendships.  P2P establishes a mutually-beneficial partnership, in which the students with social challenges learn social norms and expectations while the peer mentors build their awareness of diversity, differences, and disabilities.  Furthermore, P2P shapes the character of our peer mentors by teaching them about acceptance, inclusion, tolerance, understanding, patience, and compassion.  P2P not only creates a better community in Grandville Schools, it also creates better people.  Our P2P theme in Grandville is “Together We Are Better” and we have observed this statement to be true time and time again within our P2P Program. ” Jill Kreuze, Grandville Public Schools.

Another school in attendance this year was Caledonia Community Schools. This year Caledonia brought 94 students to the Whitecaps game.  They have been offering an elective course to high school students for the past three years called LINKS. This spring several LINKS students went with students from the Cognitive Impaired (CI) program to the Winterfest dance. “It was incredible to see how students continue to build relationships amongst each other and care about each other.” Scott Bont, Caledonia Community Schools.

All of the districts that are involved in the P2P program are doing incredible work to change the lives of students.  If you would be interested in learning more about this program, please contact Rebecca McIntyre of Kent ISD. This event was made possible by the Statewide Autism Resources & Training (START) program from Grand Valley State University and Kent Collaborative Autism Network (CAN).

 

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