What to look for in matriculated peer partners:
- Students who have many social connections
- Students who have an interest in/connection to the disability community (through majors, family members or friends with disabilities) or social justice issues
- Friendly, open, have interests to share/interests in common with students with IDD
- Connect across disciplines – we’ve had students from visual/performing arts, communications, linguistics, business, health and wellness, etc.
- We don’t do background checks, other than asking if anyone has been convicted of a crime. (Our reasoning: other students become friends without background checks)
Important concepts for coordinators and trainers:
- Be aware of the complexities of power- matriculated peer partners should not be just “younger, cooler” staff.
- All students should be willing participants- if a student with IDD does not want to connect with a peer partner, he or she should have the right to refuse. It is not a program requirement for the students with disabilities.
- Connect the program to disability studies concepts rather than “philanthropy”
- Inclusive training: We train all new students using the same training module and at the same time. Our reasoning: if you can’t say something in front of the student with IDD, why are you saying it??? Plus, training is a good time for people to meet and create partnerships.