BY ARIELLE KRAUS
Every year, the CCHS Best Buddies chapter hosts a match party for their members. This event allows members to get to know each other through various activities and bonding experiences.
Best Buddies is an international organization designed to promote inclusion. The CCHS chapter matches students who have intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) to another student, allowing for a one-to-one friendship.
“It’s a huge responsibility to have a buddy,” Best Buddies President Danel Le Roux said. “Most students with IDD have a hard time making friends, so when you are chosen to have a buddy, it’s important to keep in touch and make plans with [them]. This is their entire life put into a friendship.”
“I got to make a new friend who I care about, who I appreciate and who I respect.”
The match party allowed all students to learn about other club members and form new friendships. Members played a game where they threw a ball covered in questions and had to answer the question they landed on. This game allowed members to get to know each other on a more personal level.
The room filled with laughter as the second event of the evening began. Members split into groups and selected a representative to attach a tissue box filled with ping pong balls to their backs and shake them out.
The impact Best Buddies has on students goes far beyond this event. Some parents chose to stay and interact with the other parents at the event. Judith Gabbidon, mother of David Gabbidon, shared that her son has been involved in Best Buddies for 3 years.
“[Best Buddies] has taken [my son] a little bit out of his shell,” Judith Gabbidon said. “This was one of the few things that he wanted to do, because he is at this stage where he doesn’t want to do anything, but Best Buddies, yes, he wants to go. So, he got up, got dressed and he was here. I [also] think that people get to see another side of him because he is a cool guy.”
“I like doing Best Buddies because you get to hang out with the homies.”
Best Buddies is more than just a club to the members involved. It is a close group of students where members can trust and support one another.
“Best Buddies is a fun group,” junior Max Feudo said. “It’s legit, awesome and fantastic. I like doing Best Buddies because you get to hang out with the homies.”
The cafeteria was full of new members, former members and Best Buddies alumni who came back to see their friends. There were many new faces at this event, including junior Jordan Bees, who was involved in Best Buddies at his previous school.
“[Through Best Buddies], I got to make a new friend who I care about, who I appreciate and who I respect,” Bees said. “My favorite part of Best Buddies is introducing myself, having a good personality and being so kind to another person.”
“I hope that people have a better sense of understanding that all people, with or without IDD, have the opportunity to make friends and have close friendships.”
This event prepares students for the next step in Best Buddies: the matching process. Here, individuals with IDD are matched to a peer buddy. The matching process is based on factors such as interests and compatibility.
“The matching process is quite important,” Le Roux said. “We made surveys for those that chose to be a peer buddy. A peer buddy is a student that is selected to be paired up with another student that has an intellectual or developmental disability. Not everyone is selected for this position, so [others] become an associate member, a member that is involved in the club, just not paired with another student.”
The match party gave members the chance to collaborate and connect with one another. It was a social event that allowed members to learn more about the club’s purpose and become prepared for the upcoming school year.
“I hope that people have a better sense of understanding that all people, with or without IDD, have the opportunity to make friends and have close friendships,” Le Roux said.
Photo by Makinzi Burgs