Creating an environment of inclusion, caring and community is what Sage Broomfield has done for students at Claremont Secondary.
The Grade 11 student has been instrumental in the creation of School District 63’s first Best Buddies program — an international organization whose mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for friendships and leadership development for people with disabilities. She got involved with the program during her first year at Claremont in Grade 9 and has since grown the program significantly.
“As soon as Sage saw the opportunity she stepped forward,” explained Randy Stetson, an integration support teacher at Claremont and one of Sage’s nominators.
“We were able to match five special needs students with peer buddies in that first year and established a caring community in the school with 12 peer buddies who met, got to know, greeted in class and in the halls and attended community activities with special needs students.”
After her first year of being involved with the program, Broomfield attended the Best Buddies Leadership convention in Vancouver to get ideas on how group members’ experiences could be improved and enhanced. Now in its third year, the Best Buddies chapter has grown to include 10 buddies with increasingly complex needs and over 20 peer buddies.
“Not only is Sage an outstanding role model but she also handles the organizational responsibilities of the group,” added Stetson.
As well as being involved with the Best Buddies group, Broomfield is also involved with Claremont’s student government and Key Club, as well as Free the Children and African Grandmothers.
“If you ask for help she just comes with you, no questions asked,” said teacher sponsor of the Claremont Key Club, Ruth Wadsworth.
Broomfield said she enjoys volunteering her time because of the connections she makes and the feeling it gives her.
“Volunteering is such a positive way to spend your time and I have learned so much, made so many special connections, met so many amazing people and cemented lifelong skills while doing it,” she said.
Special needs support teacher Stephanie Riedstra, sums up Broomfield’s impact on the Claremont community.
“Sage has an incredible ability to bring people together,” Riedstra said.
“She is so warm and genuine that she connects with everyone. You always know she can bridge that awkward moment to make people comfortable and diffuse a difficult situation. In the halls, in the classrooms and in the community, Sage’s presence makes it possible for everyone to feel good about being together.”
Broomfield was given the Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award and the $1,000 Ardena Simpson Hearts of the Community Scholarship during Tuesday’s Hearts of the Community Awards ceremony.