With chapters at almost 1,700 schools, Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for one-on-one friendships and leadership for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Walt Whitman High School’s chapter has been around since 1995, creating a greater sense of community at the school.
Whitman chapter Vice President Janie Klein says that “the club has opened my eyes into acceptance and how the kids in my club are truly great friends. Everyone deserves a genuine friendship no matter what… It’s a club where you can truly be yourself, make great friendships and learn a lot about yourself.”
The club meets every other Tuesday, doing fun activities such as making Valentines Day cards, painting pumpkins for Halloween, and much more. There is also a monthly activity, where the entire club gets to do something fun, such as bowling, pumpkin picking, or even holding a holiday party.
Best Buddies activities are not only entertaining, but also rewarding, since participants affect a person’s life simply by being a friend. “You get a best friend that loves you, but more importantly you meet a whole new group of people you would have never been friends with, [both people] with disabilities and without,” expressed Whitman freshman Grace Goldman.
The goal of the club is to foster acceptance of each individual at school. Showing them respect and kindness is a big part of what the club stands for. Whitman has a campaign called “Spread the Word to End the Word,” where students try to spread awareness about social stigmas surrounding some disabilities and end the use of words like “retarded” as insults in everyday vocabulary.
Best Buddies is a place for self-expression for anyone, creating a real sense of community within the school. It’s a great place to meet friends, and changing people’s lives just makes it more delightful.
Article by Sophia Knappertz, MoCo Student staff writer