Claremont students host cross-country exchange

Saanich students in Best Buddies program welcome counterparts from London, Ont.

Claremont secondary students Roxanna Moser

Students from Claremont secondary’s peer initiative program Best Buddies hosted a like group of teens visiting from London, Ont., last week, and the result was positive all around.

Between whale watching and the usual Victoria tourist stops, the visiting students of Oakridge secondary’s Best Buddies program shadowed the Claremont Best Buddies in class.

“The exchange is extraordinary as a way to travel to another place,” said Roxanna Moser, a Grade 11 student at Claremont. “I’m hopeful we can do another exchange like this, and that other schools will get a chance to try this.”

Moser’s peer buddy is Claremont’s Lauryn Orme, in Grade 10, and the two were part of the Claremont group, led by teacher Randy Stetson, that visited London earlier this year.

Best Buddies is an international model that matches peers with student buddies who have intellectual disabilities (which also includes being on the autism spectrum). Locally, Oak Bay, Reynolds and Spectrum also have Best Buddies programs, which can exist at the elementary, high school and university levels.

The goal is to improve the quality of life for all involved, which was exactly the impact the trip to Saanich was having, said Oakridge teacher and Best Buddies co-ordinator Bart Irwin.

“I was motivated by seeing other high school exchanges but nowhere could I find another high school exchange that included the entire cohort of a group such as ours,” Irwin said. “Claremont does a good job of integrating all of its students on a daily basis [that we could learn from and experience].”

Irwin said he emailed the leaders of about 50 Best Buddies programs from one end of Canada to the other and it was Stetson who picked up the torch and truly embraced the idea Irwin had envisioned.

“One of our ‘buddies’ told their mom it was a life-changing experience after London,” Stetson said.

For a lot of the Oakridge parents, the idea of their kids participating in cross-school exchange such as this was hard to wrap their heads around, until they saw that it could go well, Irwin said.

“Once they saw it really could work, the support was incredible,” he added.

Irwin found support for the cross-school initiative from YMCA’s Youth Travel and Exchanges.

“It’s revealed capacities we knew were there for [both the peers and buddies],” Irwin said. “Their growth during the week is remarkable.”

 

Just Posted

Uncertainty continues to surround body found in Central Saanich

BC Coroners Service say the man in his 20s is from Victoria. His death remains under investigation

Muppet-topped motorcyclists hit the road for sick kids

Helmet Heads Canada collecting donations during Victoria Christmas parades

Second cyclist struck during morning commute in Greater Victoria

Saanich crash involving a cyclist at the Braefoot Road, Epsom Drive and Cedar Hill Cross Road intersection

Christmas events set to begin across Greater Victoria

Lights, parades, gingerbread and more are coming to down until the new year

Victoria parents share personal stories of raising kids with substance abuse issues

What We Wish We Had Known takes place on Nov. 21 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

VIDEO: UBC exchange students offered $1,000 to help with leaving Hong Kong

The university said 31 of its students were attending four universities in Hong Kong

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Federal laws at heart of West’s anger up for debate, as Liberals begin outreach

Vancouver mayor to Trudeau’s western critics: ‘Get over yourselves’

Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011

Teen developed ‘popcorn lung’ due to vaping: Ontario doctors

Boy went from being in perfect health to being on life support after just five months

B.C. judge tosses ‘N’ driver’s claim he was just using phone to decline his mom’s call

Distracted driving laws are more strict for Class 7, or Novice drivers, the judge noted

Woman calls 911 to say she was late for train, asks Ontario police for ‘emergency ride’

Peel Regional Police received more than 180,000 improper calls so far this year

It could take you 218 years to save up for a house in this B.C. neighbourhood

It would take 27 years in the most affordable city in the Lower Mainland

Most Read