NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Feeling included is so important for teenagers, and that is the mission of a program at North Haven High School.
“High school can be a very very scary place and being able to spread inclusion creates that peace that we need,” said Yasmeen “Yazzy” Zureiqi, the chapter president of Best Buddies.
“Best Buddies is a space for everyone in the community to feel safe, valued, welcome, and create one-on-one friendships of kids with IDD and without.”
IDD stands for intellectual and developmental disabilities. Zureiqi and Christian Bykowski, a 10th grader, are now good friends because of it.
“I’m pretty glad that I’m a member here at Best Buddies because all throughout middle school and high school I’ve been having anxiety, as of lately,” Bykowski said.
Once a month, the 70 members get together they play, eat snacks, and win prizes.
“That is kinda the whole point, is that we’re all there to have fun,” Lauren Vivenzio, the school social worker said.
The other program is Unified Sports. It’s a similar idea, but in the gym and once a week.
“It helps integrate our students who may be more shy or who may struggle with social skills,” Vivenzio said.
Bykowski even designed their t-shirts.
“Basically, the two characters are me and her [Zureiqi] making a heart.”
The two have fun outside of this, too. Recently, at a dance.
“And then the fun really began as Yazzy took my hand on the dance floor and the two of us did a duet on that song actually, and the most adorable part, she was using my hand as a microphone.”
It’s clear what’s right at North Haven High School.
“It’s amazing to see these students who really come out of their shells just when given the opportunity when they feel comfortable,” Vivenzio said.
Watch previous editions of What’s Right With Schools here.