Individuals with intellectual disabilities often times do not have the chance to interact in a social setting or may not have many friends. Best Buddies works to change that through our friendship program. Our program provides people with intellectual disabilities the chance to have experiences which most people take for granted – going for coffee, out to a movie, or simply enjoying the company of a good friend. We establish chapters at universities, colleges, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools across the country, recruit students and match them in one-to-one friendship with students with intellectual disabilities (within their own school) who share similar interests.
Best Buddies has experienced great success in Fredericton at Leo Hayes High School and Fredericton High School. We would like to build on that momentum and expand into more high schools, help enhance our existing chapters, and initiate the program in elementary and middle schools. We feel that this new expansion initiative into elementary and middle schools is important because it not only introduces Best Buddies to younger students; but, also encourages social inclusion and integration for students with disabilities at younger grade levels. This grant enabled us to target four additional schools in Fredericton, including George Street Elementary School.
The George Street Elementary School chapter currently has a membership of nine students with and without intellectual disabilities, who, as a group, participate in fun group activities, such as eating lunch together, baking and playing games. Most recently the chapter took a trip to the Clay Cafe and a picnic off campus, which was a big hit with the students.
Special Education Advisor, Ms. Lucie Davis, runs the chapter at the school and is thrilled with the students’ response to the program. In fact, many of the participants are interacting outside of formal Best Buddies activities, which is one of the main goals of the program. Best Buddies chapter leaders like Sophie and Bea, have recruited many of their chapter members to eat lunch with buddies, like Aimee and Nicole, who previously ate alone. Now, they sit at a full table of friends! Many students who have witnessed the Best Buddies chapter in action have approached Ms. Davis about how they can join Buddies in September!
“The Best Buddies Chapter at George Street Middle school is going extremely well. The participants are very happy and proud to be part of this group. The Peer Buddies have gone above and beyond to make the Buddies feel part of our school community. They are including them in school activities and lunch in the cafeteria even when it isn’t a planned event. The best part of the program is that we can now see other students who want to get involved and join the group during unstructured times such as in the cafeteria. Attitudes are changing as well. The Peer Buddies are true role models and continuously greet and chat with their Buddies in the hallway. This encourages other students to do the same. The students with disabilities enjoy the program very much and always ask when our next event will occur. I’m very proud of the progress the students have already made. All students are gaining many skills from being part of the program. The Peer Buddies are gaining leadership skills while the Buddies are gaining social skills. This is certainly inclusion at its best!”
– Ms. Lucie Davis, Best Buddies Special Education Advisor at George Street Middle School
To contact Best Buddies directly, please call 1-888-779-0061 or email email@example.com.