TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A new program at Robert E. Lee High Hchool doesn’t focus on grades. Instead, it focuses on inclusiveness.
The Best Buddies program brings general education students and special education students together for holiday parties, to eat lunch, and to learn about each other.
"Best buddies is a national organization, an inclusive organization,” says Austin Doyle, the coordinator for the Robert E. Lee chapter. “What they do nationwide and abroad is incorporate special education students with general education students and facilitate 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 friendships."
The chapter at Lee is in its first year and has over 100 members.
"It's an education opportunity, not just for special education students but for general education students as well,” says Doyle. “So, by doing this and providing education that students may not have gotten in the past, our end goal is to provide a fully inclusive Robert E. Lee campus which will hopefully then move into a fully inclusive community.”
The program’s success has encouraged Doyle and his coworkers to provide even more inclusive-focused events at the school including the Special Olympics, which will take place next year.
Joshua Silva, a junior at Lee and the president of the best buddies chapter, says his sister inspired his passion to work with special needs students.
“We need to all be one, that’s what I want from this program. I want people to just look at a student and just see a student, not see them for their disability because that’s not their identity and that’s something that’s been broken down and it’s been amazing,” Silva said.