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Online with: The Arc of Fond du Lac

This month, the e-Beat will take a look at a computer class that uses e-Buddies to teach their students with developmental disabilities. The Arc of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin has a Social Development Program that provides social and recreational opportunities for youths and adults with developmental disabilities. The computer class is just one of these programs. The participants use donated computer supplies and the time of dedicated volunteers to support their computer classes. The Arc Fond du Lac has been incorporating e-Buddies into their computer classes for several months.

Denise Adelmeyer, assistant manager for The Social Development Program answers some of e-Buddies questions.

e-Buddies: How did you find out about the e-Buddies program?

Denise Adelmeyer: I read an article in the "Anchor" [ANCOR] newsletter and then researched the e-Buddies program.

e-Buddies: Why did you decide that the e-Buddies was the right program for your students?

Denise Adelmeyer: We had received donated computers and decided to try to provide a computer class for our social development program. We wanted to teach computer skills and provide an opportunity for developing new friendships at the same time. We receive additional computer supplies, and then felt we would be able to teach Internet and e-mail skills in a safe and secure environment. I made some contacts and checked out the e-Buddies program and thought that this program would allow for our clients to experience "the cyber world" in a safe setting. The e-Buddies volunteers and our clients had to fill out a application and references were checked, therefore providing the security were felt that we needed in order to move forward with the classes.

e-Buddies: How has e-Buddies helped you in your computer classes?

Denise Adelmeyer: The e-Buddies volunteers have provided a much needed one-to-one relationship for our clients and they are learning to ask questions and share friendships. Their long distance friendships have developed social, community and computer skills. The e-Buddies [staff] has checked up on our clients and their volunteers whenever we had any questions or concerns.

e-Buddies: What is the best thing about e-Buddies?

Denise Adelmeyer: Our clients have discovered that their new friends are very supportive and good listeners.

e-Buddies: What would you say to a computer teacher who is wondering if e-Buddies would be a good program for his/her students with mental retardation?

Denise Adelmeyer: Go for it, lots of new skills are developed while trying to communicate with a new friend.

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