Palm Beach Central High School’s Peers as Partners in Learning, also known as “Central’s Champions” class, is in its second successful year of operation. This class is designed to teach students the general knowledge and awareness of disabilities, as well as to be trained to work as a “peer partner” for students with disabilities at the school.
The goal is to provide reciprocal academic and social benefits to students with disabilities and to their peers without disabilities. The program went from 10 trained peers in its first year, to a group of 30 students this school year. This program has been instrumental in bridging the social gap that sometimes exists in a high school setting for students with disabilities.
Students with disabilities are more included and more participatory than ever before in all aspects of campus life and in the classroom. Perhaps the most valuable learning outcome is not just what the students with disabilities gain by having the positive peer interactions and peer role models, but the life lessons learned by their peer partners.
“As a peer partner, I feel as if I take the most responsibility and that I am a representation of what this class is and who these kids are. This has taught me to take a leadership role and not be afraid to open my mouth when I see a problem,” Kevin Fender said.
Rileigh Favre agreed. “I have learned that people with disabilities are far more capable of performing difficult activities on their own than people may think,” Favre said.
The students recently celebrated the holidays together with a luncheon in the PBCHS media center.
“I believe the best part of this program is not only do you get to make these amazing friends, but you get to make a difference in their lives,” Ciara Dias said. “Everything we do makes an impact on their lives.”