Students Need Accepting Peers makes a difference

Students Need Accepting Peers Dexter

Close to 80 Creekside Intermediate School students are actively making a difference in how some of their peers are being treated. They are members of SNAP, Students Need Accepting Peers, which is now in its third year.

“We want to make sure the school is safe for everyone,” said Creekside School Counselor Carrie Ragnes, who along with School Social Worker Ingrid Charlson and Angela Anderson, the resource room teacher, as well as several students, shared the story behind Students Need Accepting Peers with visitors to the Dexter Chamber of Commerce’s Dexter Community Schools After Hours Showcase on January 19.

Among the participants in SNAP are 11 Creekside students with disabilities that range from developmental disabilities to cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities.

“We want to increase interaction with all of our peers and encourage independence,” said sixth-grader Ellie Manly. “It’s fun to learn from and spend time with kids with disabilities.”

“We sit with them at lunch and learn not to be a bystander if there is any bullying,” explained sixth-grader Shannon Zeichner. “SNAP helps you understand how to communicate with people with disabilities. You can grow a special bond.”

SNAP includes fifth and sixth-graders at Creekside.

“Behavior is a form of communication,” said Ragnes. “The students with disabilities depend on their peers for social cues.”

The student leaders of SNAP meet at lunch every other Thursday. They work on anti-bullying projects and are spreading the word to end the use of the “R” word.

“This is my second year in SNAP and I’ve learned so much,” said Manly. “It’s a part of my life now.”

“You want them to feel like there’s nothing different about them,” said Zeichner. “The disability is what they have, not who they are.”

Zeichner says that she hopes one day to have a career as a special needs teacher.

The SNAP Program has received funding through a grant supported from the Special Needs Fund of the Dexter Educational Foundation.

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