Buddy Club Prom

<p>Buddy Club Prom</p>

Buddy Club Prom

<p>Buddy Club Members</p>

Buddy Club Members

<p>Buddy Club Members</p>

Buddy Club Members

This weekend was the 9th annual ARC of Tri-Cities Buddy Club prom.

The Buddy Club program pairs special needs students, with peer mentors to help promote integration in the schools.

About 250 students from area high schools took part in a dinner and dance at the Kennewick Red Lion this past Saturday.

The mission of the Buddy Club is to help kids with special needs have the same social experience as anyone else. Britteny Baxter, is one of the members of Buddy Club 2013. 

Mom, Diana Baxter, says her daughter has thought of nothing else all week.

"This [prom] means everything to her because of without this she probably wouldn't be able to go to a prom," said Baxter.   

Britteny is paired with buddy peer, Taylor Hedges, and Saturday began with a special trip -- each of the buddy pairs were treated to salon services.  Hair, make-up, and even a manicure, something the girls had never experienced before.  

"It just shows some independence for Britteny, that she can go out and be with some of her peers and be independent of her mom and dad," said Mrs. Baxter.

The ARC of the Tri-Cities is a non-profit organization providing a sense of belonging for special needs students.  Program director Sue Pederson says buddies and buddy peers get together a few times a month for activities.  They might go bowling, see a movie, or just hang out.

"Kids with disabilities, for years and years, have ben isolated in their schools. They typically do not go to prom. The buddy club brings them together and this prom is for them," said Pederson.

Southside High School student leader Margo Cady says this is a wonderful opportunity to educate others about disabilities.

"I have family members who are actually special needs so it's something that really makes sense," said Cady.

The buddies often don't say very much... But sometimes expressions say so much more than words...

Southridge buddy peer Ellie Reiboldt says she's learned a lot since meeting her buddy, Sammie Henry.

"This is the first time i've joined Buddy Club and it's been such a privelege being Sammy's buddy. I can't seem to get enought of her, she's so sweet," said Reiboldt.

Slightly less than half of the kids in attendance were students with disabilities.

But several kids said his was by far the best prom they've attended.