Club Brings FPCHS Students For All Abilities Together
For two years, a special club has been meeting at Flagler-Palm Coast High School. Friends for All Abilities brings students together of varying abilities to hang out, form friendships and, starting this school year, have lunch together in the school’s BLC.
Joe Bizzozzaro, who has been with FPC for eight years—first as a teacher and now as the school’s assessment coordinator—is the club’s faculty advisor. He says he was compelled to serve because of the students’ commitment to it.
“While FPC strives to be inclusive, our club is hoping to help expand that goal,” he says. “I don’t have a lot of experience with kids with disabilities, but I’ve learned a lot watching these students interacting with each other. There’s love and compassion.”
The club currently has approximately 15 members but most of them will be graduating this year, so Bizzozzaro wants to get the word out to get younger students involved.
“Our biggest challenge is funding and recruitment,” he says.
On Monday, the Friends for All Abilities held its monthly Buddy Lunch. Superintendent LaShakia Moore stopped by joined the students while they enjoyed Publix subs, fresh fruit, and cookies.
This school year, the club has enlisted two new sponsors: Vincent’s Clubhouse, a local nonprofit that provides information, programs, and other services to children on the spectrum and their families the Grace Food Pantry.
Publix and Chick-fil-A are some of the local merchants that have provided discounts for these lunchtime events.
Bizzozzaro says that in addition to bolstering the club’s ranks, he’d also like to see the Buddy Lunch programs expanded to twice a month. There are three more Buddy Lunch gatherings set for this 2023-24 school year.
Additionally, the club is introducing a new program called Buddy Sports. In conjunction with the athletic department, every Friday a sports team will dedicate some of its time to interact with the club’s students with disabilities by engaging with activities. So far, 10 coaches have signed on and Bizzozzaro is hopeful more students will get involved as the program expands.