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Letter from the Director Ask Emerson Best Buddies Spotlight e-Buddy of the Month Tech Corner e-Buddies in Action!

contentse-Buddies in Action!

This is a new segment of the e-Beat! Each month we will highlight a school or agency involved in e-Buddies. Our hope is that this will be an opportunity to share some of the challenges and triumphs encountered through group participation in e-Buddies!

This month we spoke with Bridget Ames from Minnesota!

How long has your group been involved in e-Buddies?
Our group has been involved with e-Buddies for four years. I was inspired by a literacy conference I attended as well as my work with developmentally disabled adults to find a motivating activity that would improve literacy skills as well as address the issue of social isolation. I got information about e-Buddies at a table they had at Closing the Gap in Minneapolis.

How many members are currently matched with e-Buddies?
We currently have 25 students participating in the program. Six of those students are waiting to be matched.

What are some key challenges you have faced and overcome?
Initially it was getting each student their own e-mail address. At first we were going to set them up with generic web based e-mail accounts. We ran it by our tech department and they were not comfortable with that set up. They worked with us to set up district maintained accounts for our students. This system has changed every year so we've learned to adapt and change. I thought navigation around technology might be a challenge but our students have become quite technology literate because of their work with technology. They can navigate their e-mail better than some of the adults that work with them. This puts them in the position of being the teacher and they love being in that role.

How do you make e-Buddies work with your group?
e-Buddies is an important part of our curriculum. It ties in with what we are doing with communication, reading, writing, etc. We don't ever have to make the kids sit down to do their e-mails. They beg us to check their e-mail!! As an educator I translate that to "Can I read and write today?"

What have your group members gained by participating in e-Buddies?
Participating in e-Buddies has expanded my studentsí world internationally. They have access to worlds that they ordinarily wouldn't have. We have had numerous lessons based on information that has come from their e-Buddies e-mails. What kind of food do they eat in China? What part of the United States has hurricanes? What is e-mail slang? They have friendships they normally wouldn't have. E-mail slows down the communication process and gives them an opportunity to really build their communication skills.

In conclusion we LOVE participating in the e-Buddies program. I share e-Buddies information with anybody who will listen!!!

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Do you work with a group of e-Buddies participants? We'd love to feature your group here! Please contact us at ebuddiescomments@bestbuddies.org.


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