Best Buddies Club Begins at West

On Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, West students met with Special Education teacher Sarah Chavez, and local Best Buddies liasons Rachel Konetzke and Teri Bromberek to talk about beginning a chapter of the Best Buddies program at Wauwatosa West High School.

Best Buddies is a program that helps create one-to-one friendships between regular education and students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  The program also emphasizes leadership and employment development.  Originally started in 1989, Anthony Kennedy Shriver – the same family that started the Special Olympics – the program current has chapters in fifty countries.

According to West Junior Will Harrington, a student who is helping to start the program, the Best Buddies program is “a program that pairs general education students with a student with a learning disability.”

Harrington wanted to become a part of this program because “[he] loves working with special needs kids and sometimes they need an extra person in their life.”

The program is a student-run mentoring program that is also running in other schools in the state.

Sarah Chavez, the teacher responsible for bringing the program to West, decided to start it here because Sonja Nelson, the Wauwatosa East Social Worker, started the program at Wauwatosa East where it has been very successful.  Chavez also wants her students to become more involved with the other students and activities at West.

The Best Buddies organization also has people helping start the program at West – Rachel Konetzke and Teri Bromberek.   Konetzke became a part of the program because she was a part of a similar program in high school where she became friends with one of the members, and she now has an bachelors degree in Social Work.

Sophomore Claire Wojnowiak is looking forward to being a part of this program and thinks that the program will help “bridge the gap between students.”

Reporter: Caylin Rosene

Photographer: Caylin Rosene