Best Buddies is an international, non-profit organization founded in 1989 by Anthony Shriver, an American activist for people with intellectual disabilities. The organization has four objectives: to build friendships and increase level of inclusion for people with or without an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD), to give jobs to people with IDD allowing them an opportunity to earn payment and to support themselves, to encourage people to become leaders, public speakers, and advocates, and to provide integrated living opportunities for people with and without IDD. This information can be found on this website: https://www.bestbuddieschampion.org/about-best-buddies/ (“About Best Buddies” page). Best Buddies has international programs. More details can be found on their website https://www.bestbuddies.org/international-programs/ (“International Programs” page). The global headquarters are in Miami, Florida which can be found on this website, https://www.bestbuddies.org/staff-directory/#1446770111859-bd4bea87-e415 (“Staff Directory” page). In the United States, many high schools and colleges participate through Best Buddies clubs, including the one at McDaniel.
The Best Buddies chapter at McDaniel meets once a month and the meetings are announced on social media, usually in the middle of each month. “We meet once a month. We announce our meetings on our Instagram (@mcdanielbestbuddies) and our GroupMe.” said senior Lyla Martin, co-president of Best Buddies.
Participants in Best Buddies get assigned buddies in the community and keep in touch with them and they do activities with them. There is always some activity planned at each meeting for people to do with their buddies and anyone else in the club as well.
“We play games, eat snacks, do community service, arts, and crafts, and get to know one another,” said senior Rory Sullivan.
“I have not participated in any off-campus activities. However, my buddy and I text regularly,” said Sullivan.
Many members emphasized how much they benefit from participating in Best Buddies.
“Best Buddies has helped me get involved in both the local community and the McDaniel community,” said senior Taylor Lindsay.
Students encourage others to get involved.
“I would tell others that we truly have lots of fun and we all enjoy each other’s company,” said Sullivan.
Some club members mentioned how much they love the enthusiasm of their buddies with IDD who are from the community.
“I like being able to spend time with members of the community! The members look forward to the meetings every month and it is rewarding to see how happy they are to spend time at McDaniel,” said Lindsay.
Normally, Best Buddies also participates in off-campus or state-wide activities like the Friendship Walk and other fundraisers, but the McDaniel club has not been able to participate since 2020.
“We stay up to date with what is happening at the state level. We have not participated in the Buddy Walk for the past couple of years due to COVID-19 but are planning to participate this year!” said Martin.
Many students think Best Buddies is one of the best service organizations to be involved in because this organization provides opportunities for both people with and without IDD. There are fun activities both on campus and off campus where you can meet new people and form friendships. If you would like to join the club, email Lyla Martin (email@example.com) or Laura Emilfork (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be added to the GroupMe.