CABOT, Ark. (KTHV) – High school can be tough. There is pressure to fit in, make friends and, sometimes, it can be difficult to even find someone to sit with at lunch.
Now, imagine going through all that with a disability.
A program at Cabot High School is making friendships easier, by encouraging people of all abilities to come together and get to know one another.
“I had grown up with different kids, different people with disabilities and it just kind of seemed like a great opportunity, something I might be good at,” said Junior Gunter Garvin.
Garvin is a junior at Cabot High and is part of Sidekicks, a program designed to facilitate friendships between students with and without disabilities.
“We a lot of fun stuff. Whenever special Olympics comes around that's a big thing. We will go out there and watch them compete and support them. Every week we come in and have lunch, just kind of talk and see how their week is going,” said Garvin.
Sophomore Brock Martin has been in the Sidekicks program for a year and has formed a close friendship with his sidekick, Ashley.
“She’s pretty. She’s very nice and has a good personality,” said Martin. “They may be different I guess, but not to me. I think everyone is the same and everyone should be treated equal.”
After five years, the program is catching on, with more and more students becoming involved.
“The kids in my class love this. They look forward to it every day at lunch. ‘Who is my sidekick?’ ‘When can I go?’ They get a little bit sad when they can’t be there and they talk about it all the time,” said special education teacher, Shelley Moore.
Moore said it’s not just about lunch, but sharing special moments together, like when special education student Olivia Dixon asked her Sidekick to walk her down the field for homecoming.
“It was fun. Everyone was clapping for me telling me how pretty I look,” said Dixon.
The Sidekicks program is also in place at Middle School North in Cabot.
Moore hopes every school in the district will have the program soon.