“LINKS is a peer to peer program where peers that are non-disabled work with peers who have some type of disability, whether that be cognitive or autism or even a physical disability,” said teacher Bill Doran.
Take it from someone who was on the fence about taking LINKS, this program has changed my life and opened my eyes to so many new experiences. I can’t even count how many friends I have made while participating in this course.
“This class allows students to connect with peers they might never crossed paths with had they not joined LINKS. The program inspires students to feel free to be themselves, unapologetically. If you want to be challenged, and not in the Algebra 2 class, ‘find the value of x’ sort of way, or just want to feel more connected to your school and classmates, then LINKS would be a good fit for you. What I love about this program is seeing students with all different backgrounds, talents, and interests find common ground in their passion for helping others,” said Audrey Vandokkumburg, a LINKS teacher. This statement perfectly sums up the program. Not only is the LINKS class a convenient way to help someone you may already be sitting next to in one of your classes, it exposes each and every student in it to new, long-lasting friendships.
LINKS does not only benefit the student taking the class, it also benefits the peer. Mrs. Vandokkumburg gives a heartwarming example of one of her students — “Bob” — benefiting from the LINKS program: “I believe that one of the main reasons he was able to step outside of his comfort zone to attend events like Winterfest, Prom, and football games was because of the connections he developed through LINKS. Without LINKS, this student may not have been given the opportunity to know what it’s like to develop genuine friendships, or what it feels like to dress up and take pictures before a high school dance — things that some high school students might take for granted. ‘Bob’ became the best version of himself because of LINKS, and that is why the LINKS program is so powerful for the inclusion of our school and community.”