Resources For Teachers
How it works
The Amigos program creates opportunities for youth, with and without intellectual disabilities, to meet, spend meaningful time together and form relationships.
An Amigo, and Amigo connector are identified and matched as an Amigo pair*.
The pair of students meet once a week during lunch. During the early weeks of the program, there are planned interactive activities and games to help the students get to know their own Amigo, as well as other Amigos in the program.
As the weeks progress, the pair is encouraged to find activities on their own to participate in. This could be as simple as going to the cafeteria together to eat lunch, or could be joining a club together, playing sports in the gym or going for a walk. The emphasis is on developing social skills, getting involved in other areas of their school and meeting new friends.
* there are times when the teacher advisor will decide that it works better for their students to meet as a group and not specifically paired with one other student. The program is flexible, with the emphasis being on providing opportunities for meaningful relationships to develop.
What you need to get started
- A teacher advisor to support the program and be available one lunch period per week.
- An accessible meeting room for students to check in, but not necessarily hang out in, during lunch.
- Enthusiasm for creating inclusive opportunities!
What we provide
- A step by step guide to get started
- Access to a facilitator to help get your program started
- Subsidized trips* and workshops for students, to encourage meaningful inclusion
- An activity stipend*
- Peer Awareness orientation session for Amigo Connectors
- Student leadership workshop
* Funds and trips subject to change each year based on funding. In previous years Amigos have enjoyed going to Camp Kawartha, celebrated with a year end Fiesta BBQ and participated in leadership workshops.
Contact us for more information.
Peer Awareness Orientation for Amigo Connectors
An orientation session is provided, by Heads Up for Inclusion facilitators, for the Amigo Connectors. This ensures students are aware of what is expected of them and also what they might experience by pairing up with someone new who experiences barriers to social inclusion.
Using interactive role-plays and activities, we talk about different ways people:
- Communicate – verbal, non-verbal, vocalizations, different languages
- Move themselves around – wheelchairs, walkers, fine motor skills etc.
- Interact with others – social skills, social cues and behaviours
- Comprehend the world around them – How and what we understand
We also talk about ways to include everyone in a meaningful way – so that all students have the choice to be active participants, not just observers. By participating in actual activities, we learn strategies to modify and adapt everyday activities or situations.
Student Leadership Training
Ideally, each Amigos program has 2-3 strong student leaders with at least one student who has an intellectual disability. HUI provides leadership training to enable the students to plan inclusive group activities, help in recruitment and provide support to all Amigos and Amigo connectors.
10 steps to starting and maintaining an Amigos program
- Designate a teacher advisor to help run the program
- The Teacher Advisor is a teacher who volunteers to oversee the program and works directly with the Amigo Facilitator
- Their enthusiasm and belief in inclusion is essential
- It is often beneficial to have a teacher who is not an LLS teacher to act as advisor or a co-advisor
- Inform all staff of Amigos program at staff meeting*
- The support of the entire school staff helps to ensure a successful program.
- Teachers must pass on information to Amigos’ teacher advisor regarding clubs, special events, sporting or musical events/groups etc. so that Amigos can be encouraged to join in and/or support these initiatives.
- Recruit students to be Amigo connectors:
- Announcement at assembly, over P.A system or posters;
- Information table at lunch and/or;*
- Student referral form that goes out to all teachers.
- Stress to teachers how important their role is in supporting the program by talking it up, and encouraging participation.
- Encourage students who are interested to talk to their friends
- Recruit and identify students to be Amigos:
- Announcement at assembly, over P.A system or posters;
- Information table at lunch;*
- Send Amigos introduction letter and application home with students from the LLS class and any other identified students who would benefit from the program.
- Organize an information session*
- Hand out application forms
- There is a 3 minute or 10 minute DVD that can be watched
- Information pamphlets are available
- Identify student leaders to work with teacher advisor
- HUI offers a student leadership workshop that can be booked
- Plan an Orientation session for Amigo Connectors
- HUI offers Peer Awareness Orientation workshops for Amigo connectors that can be booked
- Pick a day and place where Amigos will come together and meet
- Pick an accessible location that gets students away from their regular environment. Preferably not in the LLS or Special Ed. rooms
- Pair Amigos and Amigo connectors
- Amigos are paired in order to develop meaningful relationships, and assure accountability to their Amigo and the program; however;
- Some schools choose to meet as a group instead of pairing. In this case, the Teacher Advisor must be diligent to ensure that Amigos and Amigo Connectors are interacting, and connecting in a meaningful way.
- Ongoing attendance to ensure and track committed participation
- Monthly or bi-monthly fun group activity planned by student leaders and teacher advisor. Examples of past activities include:
- Pot luck lunches
- Talent shows
- Frisbee golf
- Soccer baseball
- Gingerbread house/cookie decorating
- Movie and pop corn
- Relay races
- Christmas wreath making
* Heads Up for Inclusion facilitator can come in and help if needed.