Leilehua High Joins Best Buddies Hawaii

Best Buddies Hawaii operates on a simple mantra: Everyone deserves an opportunity. Leilehua High School will join BBH and eight other Oahu schools this fall to help students with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) seize those chances.

According to program manager Elizabeth Torres, Best Buddies focuses on helping those with IDDs succeed by way of “one-to-one connections and inclusion within the school system.”

It boils down to friendship. Student-run school chapters of BBH foster friendships between special education students and their peers. There’s a big group activity every month, ranging from on-campus fun fairs to Waikiki Aquarium visits, and individual student pairs also meet every week, sometimes writing emails back and forth, or even just grabbing a bite to eat on campus.

These little activities are important, Torres said, because there’s a long way to go before students with IDDs are on par with their peers. “There is still bullying that exists within our school system,” she noted. “Our schools are simply not inclusive. We have our special education students, or people with disabilities, still within their own classroom communities. They’re not integrated in any way, or provided a chance to do that. I think Best Buddies allows that chance,” Torres said.

The Leilehua chapter is just getting off the ground, she explained, but it will fall in line with other Best Buddies programs around the island. Kapolei High School, for example, goes on bimonthly bowling excursions. They’ve also decorated cookies and made friendship bead bracelets on campus.

For more information, visit bestbuddieshawaii.org.