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Best Buddies Program Creates Pathway to Friendships

Members of the Kirkwood Best Buddies Program play a board game together.

March 1, 2023 - Nipher Middle School in Kirkwood has created an open door for students to make new friends, develop leadership skills, and even prepare for future employment opportunities through its Best Buddies program. Led by Special Education Teacher Allison Laxton, the purpose of the program is to allow students with disabilities and their peers a time to interact and get to know each other. 

“At Nipher, we are working towards creating an inclusive environment and fostering a sense of belonging for all of our students,” said Laxton. “This is my first year with SSD, so I am picking up right where things left off.”

The nearly 20 members of the program participate in a variety of activities every Monday morning. Sometimes they prepare beverages and snacks for the coffee cart, design arts and crafts projects like the Buddy Book, and play games like Uno and Jenga, which student Sarah Lai says is her favorite. 

“I love playing games with the girls,” said Lai. “Last week, we played a game where we asked each other questions and I learned more about their interests and dislikes.” 

Laxton plans to expand the program to include science experiments and cooking activities. Dr. Taneal Davis, Kirkwood special education director, says the program is one of the best ways for students to build relationships.  

“It allows program members of all backgrounds to realize how much they have in common with each other,” said Davis. It’s good for them to see familiar faces in other classes and feel included.”