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Grade 4: New Friends, Lasting Connections - United Neighborhood Buddies


For many years Graland Grade 4 students have participated in the Unified Neighborhood Buddies program, a partnership dedicated to providing a fun and meaningful way for fourth graders to build relationships with differently-abled students. 
Despite the challenges this year has presented in the classroom, the Grade 4 team was committed to continuing this long-standing tradition with Denver Public Schools. For the first time this year via Zoom, 72 fourth graders got to virtually meet their buddies from Denver’s Joshua School, one of the top schools for autism in the United States. 

During their first meeting, the students were introduced to each other and had the opportunity to present a slideshow with fun facts about themselves. Every Friday, Grade 4 was able to Zoom with their new friends at the Joshua School. 

After their initial meeting, several fourth graders were excited to share what they have learned from the experience and about their buddies so far:

“I learned that my buddy is not that different from me. He does not have special needs, just human needs - like a little extra help and love. During our conversation today, I’m looking forward to learning more about autism, and I also want to know his favorite car.” - Jayden Q. 

“I think the UN Buddies program is important because it allows you to meet people that may have different needs than you. It gave me the opportunity to make a new friend, and I really enjoyed it. While Zooming with my buddy, I told her about my dog, and I learned that she also loves dogs, so we connected over that.” - Audrey D. 

“It’s really cool how we get to interact with people with different needs. I loved learning about the things that my buddy is interested in, like movies, superheroes, and comics. I also know a lot of superheroes so we had a lot to talk about.” - Aiden E. 

“During our Zoom, I learned a lot about my buddy and what she likes to do. She showed me her classroom, and I told her what I like to do and what my favorite color is, which is blue. Last time we had so much fun that I can’t wait to talk to her again today because she was so nice.” - Olivia M.

"I got to learn more about people with autism and how it impacts their everyday life. My buddy has cerebral palsy, and he is very smart. We talked about sports, and I learned how autism can affect you in a good way." - Jackson T. 

"It was crazy to see everyone Zooming with their buddies at the same time. There are 72 kids in our grade - so that's a lot of Zoom calls! UN Buddies allowed me to learn more about differently-abled students my age. I got to make connections with them, and I realized that it's okay to have differences. In the slideshow that I made for my buddy, I shared that I like to play soccer, drink tea, and be outdoors." - Cody M. 
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Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.