SNAP program builds meaningful connections 


Saydria Ostler

Canon White and Jacob Brown have a dance party with a SNAP buddy. The SNAP program allows for Perry students and those with special needs to spend time together.

Many Perry students dedicate every Thursday night to spending time with those within the special needs community.  SNAP, meaning Special Needs Activity Programs, allows for teens to act as peer facilitators, and create bonds with those with disabilities. The program gives those with special needs a routine time to interact with others of all different ages. 

Each of the teen members are assigned with a specific buddy who they primarily interact with. The buddies can be any age and are those with a disability. Having a buddy gives the facilitators a chance to spend time and get to know someone with special needs that they might not get the chance to outside of SNAP. 

Some of the buddies and peer facilitators attend Perry. Being a part of the program gives students a chance to give back to the community and have a real impact on those involved. “It feels really good. I always leave SNAP feeling really fulfilled and happy,” said junior Summer Gould. 

SNAP allows for teens to understand others better and create a more understanding and aware culture. “It helps to bring us together, you know when you do community service you’re able to help other people and it can help to enlighten your life and the lives of others,” said junior Bethany Linde. 

The SNAP programs can vary from night to night, with different themes and activities determining the events. The activities span across multiple rooms, taking up most of the building. Every session, all members first gather in chapel to catch up and have the chance to share any news. “We usually start here with opening exercises or we sing birthdays, and recognize people and do spotlights. It gives an opportunity for an open mic–we call it “share and tell”–where they get to get up and tell us about anything, ‘bowling scores’ or whatever they did this week,” said SNAP coordinator Renee Clark. 

Depending on how the night is planned, the facilitators will be sorted into color groups and spend time doing various activities with their buddies. Some rooms may be playing bingo or other board games. To conclude the end of every SNAP night, all members gather in the gym for a dance party. 

The SNAP program incorporates different parts of the community as well. Groups such as first responders, zookeepers, and dance instructors have been brought in to be a part of the night. The planning behind a SNAP night is put forth with consideration in order to produce a safe and fun night .

The program aims to give social opportunities for both groups that they might not normally get. “For them [the buddies] it’s a place they can come and socialize, and have a fun, safe environment where they can meet other people. Also with the youth it gives an opportunity to get involved with those with special needs and get to know a little more about people with special needs and how to be friends with those with special needs,” said Clark. 

The program is held on Thursdays from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Those interested in participating and joining the community can email [email protected] for more details about location. While SNAP is not a school-dictated program, it does follow the CUSD break schedule. While held through the Church of Jesus Christ, SNAP is open to those who want to be involved, and is bringing awareness and understanding to the special needs community one step at a time.