Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Building one-to-one friendships between people with and without IDD, is witnessed locally with great success throughout our schools, starting in middle school and continuing through college programs.
Best Buddies High School Friendship Program
The high school program fosters one-to-one friendships between students with and without IDD. In this time of heightened social and emotional development, that can be difficult even for teenagers without IDD, and the Best Buddies High Schools program helps break through social barriers at an important time in a young person’s life.
We asked local students to share how the Best Buddies program impacted their lives, and their answers showed that the friendships are indeed mutual.
“Best Buddies has impacted my life in a way that I could have never imagined. I joined Best Buddies after I moved to Highland Park High School my junior year. I was sitting in my government class when I heard a cute, high-pitched voice from the seat behind me. I turned around, and Sara Waterman had the biggest smile on her face. We started talking and I fell in love with her from that first day I talked to her; she was so silly, happy, and loving to everyone around her which only made me want to be friends with her more. I found out about Best Buddies and immediately pursued the position of public relations coordinator because I wanted to spend time with more people like Sara. I found out that officers were able to pick which person they wanted as their best buddy; I couldn’t help but think of Sara from the start, and from there, our friendship only grew. Spending time with Sara (aka Happy) helped me grow in so many ways. From ice cream and bowling dates to school dances, she changed my life and taught me what was really important. She taught me to love others and to always be kind to those around me. Sara has the sweetest heart and she truly is one of my best buddies in the whole world. I would not be the same person I am now without Sara, and, even though I am in college now, I will never let the relationship I have with her leave my life. I am beyond grateful and blessed to have found this organization, and most importantly, Sara Waterman, my best buddy and my best friend.”
– Jacuilyn Adair
“Best Buddies is a program that was established to create inclusion in schools by creating friendships with peers with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (IDD). The Plano West chapter encourages peers and buddies to interact outside of school twice a month, attend monthly chapter events such as holiday parties and a special prom, and socialize in the community.
Best Buddies is about transforming the world we live in today into a world where people with disabilities are included, accepted, and respected. Maria, my buddy with Down syndrome, and I go to lunch, shop at the mall, swim, and go to concerts just like any other group of friends would. In addition to encouraging friendships, Best Buddies also aids individuals with IDD by teaching them leadership and lifestyle skills necessary to enter the workforce. Being friends with Maria has changed my life because it taught me the true of value friendship and kindness.”
– Sarah Balis
“It is not easy to put into words what my best buddy Alec, and the Best Buddies mean to me, because my buddy Alec truly is the light of my life. I do not like to have regrets, but one of my biggest ones is not finding out and becoming a part of the Best Buddies program sooner. I did not know something was missing in my life until I joined, and my heart was filled with endless joy and more happiness than I ever thought I could possibly have. My buddy Alec has taught me to live every day to the fullest, love everyone, and be happy with what you have. Every time Alec sees me he yells my name and runs as fast as he can to hug me. No matter what mood I am in, or what stress is in my life, it never fails to put me in a good mood, and reminds me to count my blessings. I will miss him tons in college, but I know our friendship will last forever, thanks to the phenomenal program Best Buddies. Thankful doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel to have Alec in my life, and I feel honored to have been able to have something so special as a part of my high school career as I begin the next chapter in my life.”
– Maddie Karesh
“My buddy Coleman Jones was a huge part of my senior year. Coleman is someone you want to be around all the time because of his joy and positivity. He really knows how to make the best out of every situation, and I had a blast hanging out with him. I have learned so much about enjoying the little things in life and just to be joyful in everything I do! Best Buddies is such a great organization because everyone is included and everyone matters. ”
– Sarah Nelson
“Being a part of Best Buddies absolutely changed my life for the better. I found purpose and friendship, and I learned the true definition of selfless love. Without my buddy Nick, I never would have discovered what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. He has shown me how to find the good in everyone and everything, and there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not extremely grateful for the blessing he is in my life.”
– Ashley Nixon
“Best Buddies’ goal is to create one-to-one friendships for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to promote inclusion and development. My friendship that was created by this organization has been simply incredible. I was matched with Coleman Jones at the beginning of my junior year of high school, and although, we had known each other since middle school our friendship immediately grew. Having set events and time to spend with one another allowed me to grow close to an amazing man who I will be friends with for the rest of my life. Coleman has taught me so many things from how to walk through my life with exceptional faith to being a man everyone can depend on.”
– David Wiggs
Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people with IDD. For individuals within this community, Best Buddies helps them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communications skills, and feel valued by society.
Learn More at bestbuddies.org