Bay Buddies Program
Bay Buddies serves 80 students with special needs, ages 5-21, with a unique summer enrichment program. The primary goal of the program is to provide students with opportunities to address outcomes and indicators in the Maryland State Department of Education's Maryland Learning Outcomes and Alternate MSA in fun and positive learning environments. The program uses hands-on learning experiences while students explore Baltimore's Inner Harbor to reinforce life skills measured by the Alt-MSA. Bay Buddies is a collaborative project supported jointly by The Arc of Baltimore, Baltimore City and County Public School Systems, Baltimore County Department of Parks and Recreation, and Living Classrooms Foundation.
During the program, students participate in a wide variety of hands-on experiences. Activities include arts and crafts and use of digital pictures, model paddle boat construction and racing, outdoor games, a banner project, field trip to the MD Council for Special Equestrians (therapeutic horseback riding), sand art, sailing aboard skipjack Minnie V. and pungy schooner Lady Maryland, mosaic frame mirror art, a gardening project, and a field trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Students learn and practice landscaping skills and utilize adaptive gardening tools to plant a perennial garden as part of a career exploration component. In addition to involving students in community life, all activities are geared to maintain individuals' skills outcomes during the summer months. As a result of Bay Buddies' enormous success, the program has received two awards: the Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties and the Innovative Program Award from the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association.