Beach Buddies president Caroline Holland receives grant to enrich program

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The school’s Beach Buddies organization has gained momentum over the past couple years due to the amount of students looking to provide support to peers, specifically special education. The main goal of the organization is to create relationships with the ‘buddies’ and make them a part of the school community. The club has doubled in size this year, taking a step further to keep everyone more involved. In fact, out of 120 applications turned in to become Beach Buddies mentors, only 35 were actually accepted. Now with the help of a mini-inclusion grant, the future improvement of the club is becoming easier.

Junior president Caroline Holland applied for a grant in December of last year that asked the Virginia Department of Education to receive $1875 in funding for further improvements to the program such as the ability to sponsor more interactive events like a field trips and a sleepover at the aquarium.

According to pilotonline, Holland was recently informed she was one of five to receive this mini-inclusion grant.

“I was really nervous about applying for the grant because I have no experience in grant writing. While it was an intimidating process, I found caring individuals to help me through the process who knew how much the school and Beach Buddies would benefit if selected. I was so happy that we were selected to receive the money and I know how much the buddies will love the events we are planning. My goal is to get any students with disabilities, whether they are involved in the club or not, to attend and for other students to join as well. We are truly one big Falcon family,” Holland said.

Holland has also spoken up to promote disability awareness in the school and ensure the special education students feel welcomed in the Falcon community. At each meeting, all members engage in creative activities from coloring to crafts, while listening to songs requested by the ‘buddies’. Since the grant has fallen into the hands of the club leaders, their hope is to provide different toys for interactive activities and devices to help with everyday use to the students.

Sponsor and special education teacher Jay Cope is slowly transitioning CHS’s newest special education teacher Bailee Adams to take over the flourishing club. Both Cope and Adams are involved in every meeting and assisted Holland with the completion and submission of the grant. After experience from previous years, both teachers have applied their new ideas to ensure all students are engaged at meetings and are passionate about making a change in the school.

“During the month of February we are concentrating on healthy bodies and minds, Adams said. “We will set aside time for Zumba and yoga to encourage physical activity. We have also planned a karaoke day that will be full of games, as well as a field trip at the end of the year. I’m so excited because the grant has given us more opportunities to be active with the ‘buddies’. I think it’s really amazing that Caroline took the time to apply because it is going to help us in the long run.”