The difference between Buddy Up and other programs is that they offer a comprehensive approach to as they strive to be “better than the norm”. With that in mind, the next phase is solving problems off the court. Buddy Up found from listening to parent feedback that there are not enough constructive resources available through government systems for life skills and that because of this, children, teens and adults with Down syndrome tend to fall through the cracks. Students with Down syndrome often have delayed or impaired speech which causes sensory development delays. Best practices may include using sign language, sensory boxes or pictures to teach functional communication and social situational awareness and these options are not always available in classrooms or are only limited to a teaching assistant designed for “general special ed”.
This is where Buddy Up steps in. Working off their motto “Be better than the norm”, Buddy Up rolled out a communication and life skills program for participants ages 14 and up. They partnered with field experts to design a program that breaks down basic communication skills with appropriate questions like how to enter conversations and ask the “who, what, why” at the appropriate time. This program is designed with “levels of progression” and as they advance, additional skills (such as feelings and empathy) are introduced and applied to situational awareness.
Their communication model is used in tangent with life skills training classes such as cooking, finance, and technology. A cooking class encompasses more than just cooking a burger, it also includes safety in the kitchen, cross contamination, knife awareness, and meal preparation. The end goal results in a mock interview for a job where a local grocery market interviews a student. This is where the “rubber meets the road” with the communication skills being paired with the classroom training. The platform they have already created is the best springboard to this new programming which is wholistic and rewarding and allows the participants to reach their fullest potential. It is about tennis, fitness, and social activities. It is about filling the next void for these athletes and students.