Birch Lake Elementary students’ parade spreads holiday cheer

Birch Lake Elementary parade spreads holiday cheer.
Joanie Mellgren, a paraprofessional for the CUBS program, helped students make some memories at the 2013 Holidazzle Parade.

Although the holiday spirit is in no short supply at this time of year, the students at Birch Lake Elementary School spread the cheer even further. The school’s annual Holidazzle Parade is a collaboration between kids in mainstream classrooms and students in the CUBS (Creating Unique Bridges for Students) program, which consists of students with developmental cognitive disabilities, and it’s one of the most heartwarming events of the holiday season.

The Holidazzle Parade started nearly 10 years ago. “We talked about doing a motor parade to showcase what the kids were doing and get kids from regular education to work with our kids,” explains Mary Miles, physical therapist from the CUBS program.

The CUBS students invite a friend from their mainstream class to help them decorate scooters, bikes, wheelchairs and wagons, and create floats to pull behind their vehicles. “We do a lot of different things so kids can use their communication and motor skills,” says Miles. Between 25 and 30 CUBS kids and their friends spend one to two days decorating and preparing, then parade through the hallways to the sounds of holiday music, passing out candy canes to other students and showing off their hard work.

“I think it’s great for the kids to work together and learn the social skills of getting along with someone who’s different from them,” says Miles. “It’s that community spirit that the holidays are all about.”