Tuckahoe Middle School students offer ‘Helping Hands’ to classmates with developmental disabilities

Posted at 3:36 PM, Mar 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-13 15:36:46-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Tuckahoe Middle School seventh graders Sarah Ann Mottley and Gretchen Neary started a program called "Helping Hands" at their school. The students described their program as follows:

As part of a project in Mr. Kasselberg’s sixth grade IB English class, we were posed a question: “How can you better your community?” We thought of how nervous we had been at the start of our sixth grade year. Would we make new friends? Would we feel included in the Tuckahoe Middle School community? We began to consider all the populations at Tuckahoe Middle School and wondered specifically about kids who may not answer “yes” to these questions about belonging. We decided to make connections between the kids at Tuckahoe Middle School with developmental disabilities and kids from other classes. We developed a program called Helping Hands, which would pair kids together during study hall for games, talking, recycling, and many other activities. Some students get the opportunity to eat lunch with their buddy or have PE or an elective with their buddy. The connections work both ways. The kids in Ms. Setterlund’s class feel more connected to Tuckahoe Middle School and have someone to greet them in the walkways, and the buddies have new friends and a sense of purpose.

The school called Helping Hands a big success and there are plans to expand the program next year. Click here to see other students in the Student Spotlight.