The halls of are usually empty on weekends. Last Saturday, however, they were filled with crafters, LABBB Collaborativeteachers and students and Best Buddies, all there for the second annual Holiday Craft Fair.
Most around here know LABBB is an acronym for the award-winning collaborative school that officially includes Lexington, Arlington, Bedford, Burlington and Belmont. The five communities are part of a consortium that teaches children with special needs from childhood until they are 22 years old.
The craft fair benefited LABBB's Best Buddies, a program that pairs students with peers from the collaborative communities, and was organized by LABBB Workshop Training Center Supervisor Janet Paz.
Rebecca Borja of Arlington pushed her Best Buddie Christine Ilacqua past craft tables filled with jewelry, leather goods, soaps and other handmade items. They stopped to say hello and later Rebecca spoke about her friendship with Christine.
The two were paired four years ago, Rebecca said. Although the program requires they meet once a month, these two meet twice and call each other regularly.
They have come to care for each other, Rebecca said.
The program, “gives [us] the ability to learn that people with special needs are just like us and you can become friends,” Rebecca said.
“We’re all the same,” she added.
Yes, we are – and hearing that message is inspiring.
Best Buddies, Paz said, is about 10-years-old and outings or getting together can mean anything from a movie to helping with a class project.
Planning and prep work for the fair started last February. By Friday night, the cafeteria and hallways were measured and marked for each table. By 9 a.m. Saturday crafters and customers filled the halls.
Paz said the crafters, soap and jewelry makers pay for a table space rental. That money, along with the take from the bake sale and raffle, goes toward the Best Buddies program.
The fair was “a huge success,” Paz said. Last year they sold 30 craft tables. This year there were 60.
“I’ve already started [planning] for next year,” Paz said.