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People, let me tell you about my Best Buddy

For a person living with an intellectual or developmental exceptionality, life can present challenges that some would take for granted.

Some of these challenges are obvious, including issues of accessibility or communication, but others are less conspicuous yet equally as important, such as just having fun.

That’s why the college’s public relations department chose Best Buddies Canada to partner with for the department’s 35th, now bi-annual, fundraising campaign Any Buddy Can.

“Our class came together and chose Best Buddies Canada as our charity because we believe in and support their values, such as inclusion and a focus on similarities, rather than differences,” explained Melina Kokkinos, who serves as campaign director for the fundraisers. “We’re aiming to raise $30,000 between our 16 events.”

The campaign had its official kick-off event on March 20 in the Student Commons to announce the upcoming events, including a speech from Mayor Jim Watson, and Ethel Maamo, regional program director for Best Buddies for Ottawa and the Maritimes.

“Ten years ago, before I moved to Canada, I envisioned being part of an organization that makes a difference in the community, my work with Best Buddies helps me realize that,” explained Maalmo. “The program allows people to see that we are more alike than we are different. we promote inclusion through fun and friendship.”

“I know the great work they do, joining people with some time and talent, with some very special people in our community who need a little bit of time and maybe a little bit of help,” said Watson when asked about his experience with Best Buddies. “We live in a pretty fast-paced world…every once in a while we need to step back and realize that there are a lot of people who need some help.”

Best Buddies Canada is an organization committed to facilitating individuals living with intellectual or developmental exceptionalities, or IDE’s, with inclusion and accessibility in many areas of public life, including elementary school, summer camps, secondary education and beyond. Currently there are 16 Best Buddies chapters in Ottawa, including at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Ashbury College, as well as the Y’s Owl Maclure Community Centre that provides life skills and employment training for people living with an IDE. Algonquin College does not currently have a chapter.

Dennis Archer, a 1st year ACPR student who is part of organizing the “90’s Reloaded” event, explained that on average it costs around $2,000 to set up a Best Buddies chapter. “We are projecting to raise $1,500 after expenses from our event alone.”

The Algonquin College public relations students are hopeful that if their events are successful enough they would be able to afford to start a chapter at the college.

“Hopefully our event will be successful in not only raising the money but in awareness,” explained Matt Regnier. “Hopefully we can get a staff member to oversee it. That’s the missing link between here and a chapter.”

In all, the Any Buddy Campaign consists of 11 events running between March 21, and April 11, including the “Phantom Formal” on March 29, “Every Buddy’s a Suspect” on April 4, “Chuckles for Charity” on April 5 and “Carnival for a Cause” on April 6.

If you would like to find out more information or to buy tickets for an event you can check out the campaigns Facebook or Eventbrite page at “Any Buddy Can”.

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