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Cool Kid reaches out to help disabled students

June 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Best Buddies is a program that pairs students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-to-one friendships with other high school students. Cool Kid Jaclyn Valdez participates in the program, helping her buddy Brooke, but she also wants other students to get more involved with their other classmates. "I've brought some of my other friends to come and meet Brooke and the class just because I want other people to get to see them the way I do," said Valdez.

Her experience with Brooke has influenced her plans for the future.

"...To be a special education teacher or a physician of some sort or even an autism researcher," said Valdez.

A senior at Santiago High School, Valdez is involved in many activities. But, people see that she has unique qualities to be a great buddy.

"[She has] patience, number one, and compassion. And you can just see the love that she has for the kids and what she sees in them," said Diane Bry, an instructional assistant.

Being in the program can be challenging. For Valdez the reward is in seeing the progress Brooke has made during their time together.

Reaching out to make a special connection is our Cool Kid, Jaclyn Valdez.