A program that brings two groups together is making the school experience a little sweeter for some high school and middle schools students at Lake Local Schools.

It’s called the Blue Streak Buddies Program and started last year at both schools.

The Buddies program pairs students with multiple handicaps with mainstream students. Together the young people participate in programs and activities, including having an in-school Christmas party and taking a field trip to a RubberDucks baseball game in Akron. The students also work together on a multiple handicapped class assignment and sometimes eat lunch together.

Lake High School intervention specialist Joe Anderson planted the seed for the Buddies program after seeing it at another school district. About 60 students are involved in the Lake program.

Special education teacher Janet Mackall said, “for the most part our multiple handicapped students are in separate classrooms away from any of their peers.”

“This does not give them a real high school experience, and our students really miss out on getting to know some wonderful people,” Mackall said.

“This experience has opened their eyes.”

Last year senior Chloe Fuller spent time with middle school students, reading books and playing games and accompanying them to the Exceptional Olympic events. She invited the entire class to the homecoming dance with her.

“It was neat to see their reaction to the music,” she said.

This year she spends time with high school students helping them learn life skills such as cooking and riding a bus. The experience has encouraged her to seek a career as a special education interventionist.

Earlier this year, sophomore Janson Smith organized a meet and great that all multiple handicapped students and mainstream students could attend.

The students met, played games and did some team-building exercises.

“Blue Streak Buddies is all about inclusion. All of our students are positively impacted by one another,” Mackall said. “Sharing experiences and creating friendships are all part of the program.”