TIES – Together Including Every Student
What is TIES?
Together Including Every Student (TIES), developed in 1997 by two parents of children who have disabilities, promotes the participation of students and young adults who have developmental disabilities in inclusive, organized extracurricular and community activities through the support of trained student volunteers.
Participants who have developmental disabilities join activities where they can develop recreational interests, learn about their community, and have fun with peers.
Peer volunteers learn how to support participants according to their individual needs, gain more understanding of disabilities and diversity, and make a positive difference in a peer’s life.
Activity leaders create an experience where all individuals and talents are included, and promote community awareness and inclusion.
How does TIES work?
TIES is currently in place in more than 30 school districts throughout the Western, Central, and Finger Lakes regions of New York. To learn more about TIES click here.
TIES Coordinators work closely with the school districts to identify eligible participants, recruit and train peer volunteers, communicate with activity leaders, and make necessary arrangements for each activity.
Activities can be –
- A single event, such as a school dance or after-school football game.
- An ongoing class, such as cooking, dance, martial arts, music, or gymnastics.
- Ongoing participation in a community organization, such as Scouts.
- A Drumming Circle.
Participants are children and young adults between the ages of 8 and 21 who have developmental disabilities. Individuals receive an application from the TIES Coordinator that asks about interests and what support is needed to be successful. Support is individualized and can be in physical, social/behavioral, or language areas. Participants list the activities they would like to join or request information about desired activities. The Coordinator discusses the chosen activities and needed support with the participant and/or parents. An individualized plan is developed that guides the peer volunteer’s support. The Coordinator also communicates with the activity leader to introduce the TIES program and assess what individual accommodations may be needed.
Peer volunteers are students within the school district in grades 8 to 12 who want to share their extracurricular interests and make it possible for the participant to experience the learning and fun that’s part of the activity! After completing an application form and a training program, volunteers are paired with participants based on mutual interests, personal attributes, and availability. The Coordinator develops and explains the participant’s support plan and provides ongoing assistance.
Activity leaders have the opportunity to include youth and young adults who have developmental disabilities into their group. A peer volunteer attends the activity with each TIES participant to provide necessary support. The Coordinator shares the participant’s needs with the activity leader and provides resources as necessary.
Please read the FAQ to learn more about the program. Next, contact West Seneca TIES coordinator Lori Carden at firstname.lastname@example.org to be partnered with a peer volunteer, or to sign up to become a peer volunteer.