Peer 2 PeerWednesday, January 28, 2009 By Katie Leonatti
Imagine that you have just bought your lunch during school one day and you emerge into the cafeteria to look for a seat. As you survey the room, you see clusters of people sitting together in tight groups, laughing and talking. It seems that as soon as you start slowly making your way to find an empty spot, everyone stares at you or starts pointing and laughing. You feel your face flush red with embarrassment. All you want to do is sit down like everyone else and eat without being bothered. When you finally find a spot that isn't already taken, the people at your table begin to harass you or tell you to say or do things that you can't control. You have no one to stick up for you, and no one who will be your friend. Lunch time is always a hard time at school for you. But picture going through this everyday, with little or no change. For some people at our school, this scenario is all too familiar. And a new group, Peer 2 Peer, plans on helping bridge that gap between isolation and helping people fit in. Peer 2 Peer is a group designed for volunteers to support a student at Fraser High who is on the Autism Spectrum. Autism affects the way someone may communicate and socialize. Many people on the spectrum also have sensory (sight, sound, touch) issues, and may do things that are beyond their control. Autism has been on the rise, with startling statistics of one in 150 children being diagnosed with Autism everyday. Since these rates have gone up so quickly, Fraser High school decided to do something about it, and so Peer 2 Peer was formed. Many juniors and seniors were specially selected to join this group to help make this cause a success. "I think it's a positive step in the right direction," said junior Maria Agostini on Peer 2 Peer. The focus of Peer 2 Peer is so that students can learn how to relate with people who have special needs, and become tolerant towards others with different needs than their own. They can gain a friend and teach others about children with special needs. “I have had classes with kids who have Autism, and I would see how they were treated everyday,” said Mrs. Perhogan on why she decided to help lead Peer 2 Peer. “I wanted to help these kids academically and with bullying problems.” Anyone who is interested in joining Peer 2 Peer can talk to Ms. Kovacs or Mrs. Perhogan.