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"Thank you, PeerBuddies, for teaching our son so many important skills in a fun, natural way.  The most important thing for us is for our son to be happy, and every day he was with you, he was happy.  Elika: thank you for giving us strategies to help us with Oscar.  We are grateful to you and will miss you a lot!!!"

-- The Lopategui Family

Participant Parent Testimonials

Participant Testimonials

-- Oscar, 13

“The PeerBuddies program gave my child an opportunity to feel independent as he met with his peer and trainer; This was a special time without a parent, instructional aid or weekly caregiver.

My son developed improved confidence along with basic skills to interact with peers of similar age, not only during his “PB” session, but with school peers at lunch time and in the classroom.  As a parent, it made me more aware of how I can help my child be successful interacting with others by priming him with simple techniques learned from the Parent Education component of the program.”

-- Retta Slay

Peer Buddy Testimonials

-- Leah, 16


-- Erandi, 12

-- Jenna, 17

“Peer Buddies has been an incredibly positive experience for my daughter Casey. She has described her time with her PeerBuddies as rewarding and positively challenging. I have observed her personal growth during this process and believe that her life has been enhanced by these shared friendships. 

I really like the one hour time frame as a manageable learning/work session. I like that the buddies are observed and that there is intervention when helpful by a trained professional...very valuable!!! Finally, I like the combination of clinical and personal technique, where sessions are brought into the buddy's home.

Thank you Elika for involving our family in your program. I am so impressed with your project and with the way you administer it with professionalism and a big heart!”

-- Wanda Venturelli

Peer Buddy Parent Testimonials


-- Dashiell, 13

“What I liked about PeerBuddies was that the peer was the same age and that the peer was the one engaging him.  I liked the various venues, that specific goals were set, and that as parents, we had the opportunity to view his videos.  I would definitely try PeerBuddies again in the future and I will certainly recommend PeerBuddies to others!”

-- Dolores Zepeda

“Being a Peer Buddy is a unique learning experience.  My son now has first-hand knowledge about social delays and intervention techniques, but more importantly, he learned just how fun and rewarding it is to help someone learn social skills that may bring more happiness and joy to their life.”

-- Debbie Paras

-- Sophia, 10

-- Jason, 15

-- Olivia, 11

-- Jennifer Carson

-- Gretchen Rosenblatt

“Jacob sure did enjoy PeerBuddies camp at Elings.  You did such a wonderful job and he wants to go to another camp when you put one together.  He really had a great time with his buddy; he was a perfect match for him.  He really loved being outside.  I can’t thank you enough for creating a camp for my special needs child.  Finally a camp that he could attend where he felt like he fit in for once, and everyone so kind and understanding.   You and your work are amazing.  Thank you so much.”

– John & Shirley McEntire

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for taking such an inspirational and supportive and engaging role in my child's experience in and away from the camp. For just making such a huge difference in his life. He has enjoyed Anne's involvement so much. He was real down Monday and Tuesday evenings. But after Wednesday’s camp day, he returned so much happier and so cheerful.  I can't describe the positive impact this whole time has had on our family! We've all gained so much in the process and I cannot thank you and your programs enough. PeerBuddies is one of those life changing events and experience to last a lifetime in our souls. I speak for all of us.  With your support and comfort you have touched a lot of hearts along the way!!!!!  Thank you to Anne and yourself and all of the teams that helped us.”

– Daniela Robles

“I knew from our previous correspondence that you have something very unique and special in your PeerBuddies Program but it was even better than I anticipated! This camp was the first really positive group experience Josiah has had in years. He came away feeling accepted, respected and excited! As a parent, that is all I could ask for. Thank you!” 

- Kelly Tyler

“I loved that everyday my son (Gabe Donovan) came home happy and bubbling over with excitement.  Gabe had a blast, he told me over and over again how much fun it was.  He played games, did crafts, had snacks, and made a new friend who was also a Jr. at San Marcos.  Hearing Gabe rave about the camp made my summer.  In terms of what I would modify, it was so wonderful, maybe you should do it for more than 2 weeks.  I wish Gabe had participated in more than one week.  I would absolutely enroll Gabe in inclusion camp again. Thank you for giving my son a real camp experience.  Awesome job...and thank you for doing this. It was truly special and touched my heart.”

– Patty Walker

“I think it was a great experience for the "non-special needs" kids. They could see first hand different kinds of people in the world who might not be as fortunate as them in some ways and can offer a different perspective of the world than what they see every day.  When I asked my daughter what she would change about camp, she said “nothing.” My daughter loved the camp. I think part of that is that she is always the "small one" in the family or group and this gives her a chance to be more of a leader and teacher.”

– Emily Harts-Roberts

“I like how child-centered the decisions were regarding the activities – my son loved each activity.  The bond between my son and his buddy facilitated a great deal of learning for my son, which I also think was facilitated by Elika's great personality, as spectrum kids need to be able to trust /respect the person who mentors them, and Elika's nature and demeanor is one that immediately earns trust.  With a HF Asperger kid like my son, if he feels that he's smarter than the adult, or the adult is going to ask him to do something that is not purposeful, and he doesn't want to do it, he will generally become disengaged.  Therefore, I believe that Elika's stellar personality and attention to details really mattered in the success of this program for my son.  My son’s Peer Buddy was a perfect match for him - again, my son respected him.  I've seen a difference in my son’s interactions with kids - he's doing a soccer camp, and I think he is taking with him the lessons learned from our last session.”

[Parent of Participant]

“Prior to participating in the PeerBuddies program, Angel had very little eye contact with his peers.  After the sessions, we are beginning to see him not only making eye contact, but spontaneously saying “Hi”.   Before PeerBuddies, Angel did not know how to end the activity he was doing and now he is using the “All Done” across the board for everything from eating to ending his computer game.  I can’t thank you enough for allowing Angel to experience such a fabulous program.”

--Cathy Abarca

“I thought the Peer Buddy match was really good; Spencer was a good fit for Sean.  Sean was able to see how an older boy acts in a variety of situations and incorporate them into his own behaviors.  We usually noticed a difference in his speech patterns (more grown-up, less baby talk) immediately after a session.”

--Wendy Campbell

“What I liked about PeerBuddies was the director was very organized and worked diligently to match our son up with a compatible buddy.  I also really liked that our son helped to plan the itinerary for what activities he and his buddy would participate in.  We were very happy to have our son participate – it was good for him and his buddy.  I have already recommended your program to others!”

--Kamala Parris

-- Lillie, 8

“I loved getting to know all the campers and volunteers on such a personal level. From the activities we did to the free time just hanging out, the atmosphere was almost always positive. I just loved being able to feel so included from day 1 of the camp. I loved everything! I can’t think of anything that would make the camp better. I would love to help at Inclusion camp again. I would be extremely excited! It was seriously an amazing time. Like I said earlier, I felt completely welcomed from day 1, and it was really awesome to feel so included. Thank you for everything!”

– Jack, 16

-- Casey, 17

-- Amalie, 13

-- Sean, 9

Facilitator Testimonials

“My overall experience here at Inclusion Camp was great.  The best part was seeing the improvement within the kids and having a lot of fun with them every day.”

– Christina Ramos, UCSB Student

– Aaron Wertheimer, UCSB Student

“This experience was so much fun.  I’m so glad I got to be a part of this unique camp that integrates kids with special needs with typical peers.  I’ve learned so much from it and from the kids!”

– Maria Santos, UCSB Student

– Sarah Loper, UCSB Student

– Krysta Russo, UCSB Student

– Zyania Lizarraga, UCSB Student

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