Cassandra Davidson, a first year developmental social worker student, found that learning about her Asperger’s Syndrome made her want to help others with disabilities. This is what made her interested in the Best Buddies program.
Best Buddies pairs students with people in the community who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Davidson got paired with her buddy after taking some tests in early winter to determine who would be her best fit.
“I try to meet with my buddy at least once a week,” said Davidson. She is in the first year of her program. Her buddy is visually impaired. “I go to her apartment and we do activities. We practice brail, we watch movies and I’ve painted her nails.”
Davidson is one of very few students at the college who participate in the program. Heather Brown, senior program and expansion manager for Best Buddies, estimates that only two or three students in the entire college are participating in the program this year.
“Sometimes people over think it,” said Brown. “It’s just as simple as ‘Hey I’m going to get coffee, want to come?’”
Brown worries that although the time requirement is minimal, it might be keeping students from joining the club. She recommends getting together with your buddy two to three times a month and communicating once a week.
Best Buddies also has group activities throughout the year where all the buddies connected with the school get together and make more friends. Group activities range from movie night to game nights. Best Buddies emphasizes the inclusion of people with disabilities.
“You don’t have to do stuff for them,” said Davidson. “It’s just hanging out, making them feel included and a part of the community.”
The club is advantageous to all who participate. “Everyone needs and deserves a friend,” said Brown. “We bring that friendship opportunity to people who don’t necessarily know how.”