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North East ISD’s Buddy Blizzard

students and teachers sliding down bounce house

At North East ISD, they let kids be kids.

That’s one of the goals of Encino Park Elementary School’s Buddy Blizzard. The Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) program is designed for students with cognitive deficits who require functional academics in a structured, consistent, small group setting combined with self-help, social skills, communication and motor development, in order to progress. The annual event pairs ALE students with fifth-grade buddies for a fun-filled afternoon created just for them.

students posing for a picture

“It’s such a sweet thing to watch,” said Encino Park Counselor Lauren Lichte. “It was such an amazing experience for me. To see our ALE students have a fun, safe and inclusive environment that they could fully enjoy with their families was incredible.”

students playing bowling arcade games

During the Buddy Blizzard, students can race on an inflatable obstacle course.

They can maneuver between cones on specialized bikes.

They can do it all at the Buddy Blizzard.

North East ISD parent Kristi Gilbert loves the Buddy Blizzard. Her daughter, who is now a Junior at Johnson High School, was one of the first ALE students at Encino Park to experience the Buddy Blizzard.

“It’s amazing. There are not a lot of things that are 100 % geared towards kids with special needs,” said Gilbert.

lady serving delicious food

Gilbert’s son is now a seventh-grader at Tejeda Middle School, but he was a buddy during his fifth-grade year at Encino Park. So, they’ve seen the incredible impact this event can have for students on both sides of the Buddy Program. That’s why Kristi and her family continue to volunteer and support the Buddy Blizzard nearly 10 years later — to see kids be kids – and to help make sure that impact lasts for another generation of students.

Source: North East ISD Website

Blog By: Etash Chandran, Intern, UT

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