Colorado Springs student proves “buddies” break social barriers

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COLORADO SPRINGS — For 17-year-old Madelyn Letendre, 2020 marks her last year of high school and her last year in the Girl Scouts. 

But her legacy, the “Buddies Club” will live on at Palmer Ridge High School

“We pair up a student with disabilities with one of their non-disabled peers. And over the year, they form a friendship and we do different activities,” Letendre said.  

The club earned Letendre the most prestigious Girl Scourt recognition, the Gold Award.

She’s one of 44 Colorado Girl Scouts to win it.

“We’ve done stuff like pumpkin carving, and arts and crafts, board games, a movie night, and we run a basketball camp each February,” Letendre said. 

To be in the running, Girl Scouts were tasked with creating and running a sustainable community service project.

“I started getting interest for buddies, I had teachers recommend students they thought would be a good fit, I went into our freshman prep classes, which is like, all the study hall for freshman. And I started gathering buddies there as well,” Letendre said. 

Letendre says the club can make a big difference for participating students.

“There’s not as much opportunity to interact with students with disabilities, and I saw that as a big problem within my school. And so, just creating a normal high school experience for students with disabilities, just to be able to have clubs after school and being able to do those activities, I saw as a really important thing within my high school,” Letendre said. 

The goal of the club is to make a friend with someone you normally wouldn’t interact with. 

“Like, it wasn’t just a chore, it was such a fun experience,” Letendre said. 

She says everything she learned as a Girl Scout showed her can accomplish anything; something she’ll take with her this fall to the Air Force Academy. 

“Having like, that kind of leadership program, and knowing that I can lead those big projects, it’s going to be very helpful,” Letendre said. 

Click here to learn more about the Buddies Club.

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