▪ School: Deerfield High School
This year, Deerfield's Warrior Buddies helped support the ELS basketball team as they faced New Trier at home. The ELS program, which supports students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, participates in two such games a year. The Warrior Buddies, a school club that promotes the acceptance of people with disabilities, did everything possible to make the game great for their peers.
"The game is an unbelievable experience because the excitement the ELS students have for the event is unimaginable," said Jenna Aronson, the president of Warrior Buddies. "It is amazing to see how accomplished they feel after scoring a basket during the game."
Some student volunteers decorated the gym with posters, streamers and banners, while others distributed flyers and decorated their buddies' lockers. The Warrior Buddies also filmed an info video that aired during homeroom to further promote the game. And of course, on game day, the Warrior Buddies were there to cheer on the home team.
"The ELS game was a huge success! Having a gym full of students, staff, parents, the pep band, drill team, palms, and cheerleaders was amazing," Aronson said. "Everyone, not just the ELS students, had a great time."
▪ Key to Awesomeness:
Club sponsors Mrs. Wood and Ms. Dorigan help organize the Warrior Buddies group, setting up meetings and pairing volunteers with "buddies." The club meets once a month to discuss future activities and to get more advice on working with their buddies. Most importantly, however, the students involved in Warrior Buddies genuinely love helping out their peers.
"The main reason I decided to get involved with Warrior Buddies was because I truly just love spending time with them," said Nicki Chamberlain-Simon, Warrior Buddies' secretary. "Every time they smile, I can't help but smile too…. They are some of the most compassionate and friendly people I know."
In addition to the time they spend preparing for the ELS game, Warrior Buddies work with students in the ELS program year-round, volunteering their time and energy to establish meaningful relationships with their "buddies."