Folwell elementary students build friendships with Bear Creek residents

Students at Folwell elementary school come to have dinner with residents once a year at Bear Creek Services.

Posted: Mar 22, 2018 11:02 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2018 6:54 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Thursday was a special day for fifth-grade students at Folwell Elementary School and residents at Bear Creek Services.

Bear Creek Services is a non-profit in Rochester that provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

For the past 13 years, a partnership between the non-profit and the elementary school has brought the two groups together at least once a year. 

Each year, 150 students, parents and community members gather at Bear Creek to enjoy dinner with residents and work on relationships while ending the stigma surrounding those with disabilities.

"It's nice for them to be able to see that the people that have disabilities aren't scary. They're normal just like they are," said resident Jennifer Redfield.

Student William Ellingson told KIMT the trip is close to his heart because his uncle has disabilities.

“So we can help understand how normal they are and there is nothing to be afraid of,” Ellingson said.

If there is one thing they can teach the students, resident CJ Smith said it would be, "Not say the R-word at all. The R-word is basically a bad checkbook in my book." 

"I'd rather have that word changed to respect," Redfield said. "That people can respect us for who we are and not for what we have."

For more information on Bear Creek Services, click here.

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