VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach high school is working to make life better for special needs students with a program that’s putting smiles on many faces.
Landstown High School in Virginia Beach knows the true meaning of the “buddy system” — one that makes the social experience of school a good one.
According to school administrators, students with disabilities meet with student athletes, band members and beyond for a lunch together about once a month. The concept is simple, the reward, they say, is anything but.
“I know just how beautiful and special kids are with disabilities,” said teacher Tim Blum.
Blum knows this first-hand.
“I have a sister with Down syndrome and I’ve been beyond blessed by her,” said Blum. “My life has really changed, and has been impacted by her, so I know just how beautiful and special kids are with disabilities.”
Blum says his sister is thrilled that he is affecting the lives of students by inviting them to have lunch with peers at their school, who otherwise would not cross paths. According to special education teacher Letha Anderson, the students look forward to the meeting.
“There is only goal: to make friendships and have a good time,” Anderson said.
One could say the greatest gift of life is friendships, and these students have received it. Students are truly bonding, and Tuesday during lunch, Joey Nelson received an invite from his buddy: a date to the Ring Dance. His buddy, Ashley Middleton, said the program is making a true impact on her life and opening her eyes.
“I just did a little Ring Dance proposal for Joey,” said Middleton. “He’s so outgoing and fun to hang out with and I thought it would be a good idea.”
Together, these students look up to one another and learn from each other by putting the best in best buddies.
“My life has been changed because of someone with a disability and I think it’s really cool to see outside of their world and see just how big and bright it really is,” Blum said.