This student-created club makes sure everyone has a buddy

This student-created club makes sure everyone has a buddy
Posted on 12/06/2022
Trautwein Buddy Club studentsWhile attending third grade at Trautwein Elementary, Draigon Schmitt made an observation: He was the only student playing on the playground with classmates with disabilities. He took the initiative to change that through the creation of a Buddy Club.

Draigon approached school counselor Fatima Warren with the issue, and together they developed the idea of the Buddy Club to build meaningful friendships between students with and without disabilities.
Draigon and Zayden
Image: Draigon and Zayden play a game together.

Draigon created a presentation that he used to pitch the club to Trautwein Elementary School principal Dr. Shannon Henderson. She loved the idea, and Draigon identified five other students to serve as the founding members of the Buddy Club for the 2021-2022 school year. The Buddy Club has exploded in popularity this year with approximately 30 students participating as buddies. 

“Last year I was helping with Chloe, and now she’s my best friend,” said Amina Mesic, fifth-grade student. “We play together during recess. She loves to play tag.”
Amina and Chloe
Image: Amina and Chloe play a game to match colors.

The buddies meet on Friday mornings before school to develop skills to use when interacting with the new friends. This includes different communication strategies to use when working with different students and how to interact in different settings throughout the school day.

“The buddies are being inclusive by making sure our students are included outside of their general education setting,” said Isabel Briscoe, special education teacher. “They’re learning about how to interact and play with them across the school.” 

The new friendships formed have been beneficial for both members of the buddy pair.

“I like to play tag, play with cars and play hide-and-seek tag,” said Zayden Jackson, fourth-grade student. 

In addition to working with center-based students, the Buddy Club also focuses on students who may be in the blue zone. Being in the blue zone in the Zones of Regulation means that a student may be sad or tired. The buddies make sure these students don’t feel alone and help them get back to the green zone. 

The students have also become school ambassadors for new Trautwein Elementary students. 

“We talked about how it felt to be a new student,” said Warren. “When we have a new student, we give them a tour of the school and make sure they have a friend and aren’t alone.”

Next school year will be Draigon’s final year at Trautwein Elementary, but he plans to continue making sure all students feel included when he goes to middle and high school.

“I want to continue this until I graduate college,” Draigon said. “I also want to pass on the club to people I trust.” 

Watch the video to learn more about the Trautwein Elementary School Buddy Club. 

The Mehlville School District strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees, students or others on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sex including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity and other characteristics protected by law. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: contact Adam Smith at 314-467-5006 or [email protected].