Special Friends is a fully integrative program in school. We collaborate with your child’s teacher to develop a program which enhances learning and develops social growth in children. We hope to make school a comfortable, safe atmosphere that is conducive to learning, in which your child wants to come to school. Our Social Work Department has put together many programs to create this type of environment in our schools. We run small groups, classroom programs at different grade levels and Special Friends.
The uniqueness of Special Friends is that it is an individual program that gives children an extra boost in school. For those children that are sensitive, anxious or frustrated academically, our program offers copings skills. Sometimes students have difficulty following school rules and procedures. Special Friends gives these children an opportunity to develop social skills, make friends and help with transition. Through play, we allow the child to work through some of the things that may be problematic.
Special Friends is used as a component in educating the whole child. It helps with social development, life skills and decision making, which in turn parallels the 3R’s implemented in our school. The analogy with Special Friends that I have is this:
Think of Special Friends as the fertilizer in a garden. We know that in time all children will grow and develop as flowers do. But, if we fertilize a garden, the flowers come up brighter, faster and stronger. Our goal in the Special Friends program is unique to each child. We want to help them develop academically and socially to be the best they can be. After all, they are our future.
Each year college interns practice their craft with the school social worker. This year Sarah Barth, a MSW intern from SUNY/Buffalo, will be interning at Ohio Elementary. Kennedy Lewandowski, a BSW intern from Daemen College and Linnea Ryer, a BSW intern from Niagara University, will be interning at Drake Elementary. Each of these interns will be the Special Friend(s) for their respective building.