The Best Buddies is a nationwide program that is dedicated to helping students within the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) community. Their mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities to one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with IDD. The IDD community that Best Buddies serves are people with Down syndrome, autism, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other undiagnosed disabilities. Currently, Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with IDD. For the individuals within this community, Best Buddies help them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communications skills, and feel valued by society.
Connie French, president of the West Potomac Best Buddies Program, offered some inside information about the program. French has been in the program ever since her freshmen year, joining Best Buddies because her upperclassmen friends suggested it and because of her passion for meeting new people. She explained how best buddies has an impact on our school.
“If you just look around the lunchroom you can see that they’re not only sitting at their table, people are inviting them to sit with them, asking them to prom/homecoming, just things that they would normally do, I think that’s a step in the right direction.” said French.
She also talked about how the program has impacted her.
“They are no less of a person than any of us.” explained French. “Best buddies has really acted as a platform for me to express my love in an organized fashion.”
Some of the activities they do to get closer to their Buddies are seasonal dances and parties. This year, the buddies are linking up with the basketball team to practice with them for a day and support the team at one of their games and are also doing a bowling night where they have their own bowling team to show their skills. Because these activities encourage the Buddies to interact with each other outside of school, students are now taking the initiative to ask their Buddies to come hang out with them and their friends, inviting them to the movies, the mall, dinner, and even to lounge around outside of school.