The month of October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and organizations such as Best Buddies International help prepare intellectually and developly disabled students for the workforce, meanwhile building strong relationships, and finding inclusive living. Here at Warren, the Best Buddies club specifically focuses on forming natural friendships and promoting inclusion, which is something the majority of the kids do not experience outside of the club.
“I grew up with a girl with down syndrome who went everywhere with my family. I soon realized how un-accommodating the world is and how inaccessible many places were and this made me upset,” sponsor Samantha Schwarzin said.
Those with intellectual and developmental disabilities do not always have the privilege to be included in extracurricular activities with the other students, so Best Buddies helps them feel included and allows them to build new friendships.
This year, the club wants to see more participation from other students in the school with or without disabilities. They want other students to feel and understand what it is like being in an all inclusive club.
“I think Best Buddies is an amazing thing that high schools, middle schools and elementary schools have,” junior secretary Madison Brobst said. ”When someone meets an individual with an intellectual disability that spark you feel is amazing, just seeing them light up with joy makes my day.”
Once or twice a month, students in the club partake in different events which helps build stronger relationships. It gives them the opportunity to hang out in a different setting they would not get the chance to see everyday.
“My favorite event would be the Halloween bonfire, it was really fun to see all of the kids dressed in their Halloween costumes and watching them play games and having a fun time,” senior social media chair Antanasia Caldwell said.
The sponsors and officers will pick the monthly events based off of what is more appealing and what will be more fun for the students. Their first event of the year is the Kickball game on Sept. 24 against the Best Buddies peers and the buddies.
"I'm excited for this first event because it's the first time everyone in Best Buddies is going to be able to do something together,” Brobst said. “It's the first time everyone will meet one another, and it's just gonna be a lot of fun."
Any and everyone who wants to support is welcome to join Best Buddies, they just have to fill out the application form and complete a survey to see what buddy they are paired up with.
“Best buddies can really help you if you’re having a bad day, you can go and talk to your buddy and just go to the classroom and hang out with them. It’s a good stress reliever,” Caldwell said.
Best buddies positively affects the peers and officers too, they have a safe place to go to and can rely on the positivity of their buddies to make them smile. This club not only helped students learn about inclusion, but also helps them build their social skills.
“Best buddies has helped me by making come out of my shell a little, I’m now a better communicator and I feel like I've become a nicer person and learned how to deal with issues better,” senior president Liyah Coleman said.
Best Buddies is recommended for those who want to learn more about inclusion and helping others, but also those looking to make new friends that they can rely on.
“I would love to get more exposure to the club and let people realize that everyone likes to feel and be included. Whether they have a disability or not,” Schwarzin said. “It helps them see a different perspective, other people's lives, that may not live in the way they do, however, have the same wants and needs,”
Students can follow the Best Buddies club on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @bestbuddies_wc