Everyone has friends who are vital to their lives. Some people may have more friends than others and we all have our "best friends." Many times people get treated differently because of their likes and dislikes and sometimes because of a disability – something totally out of their control.
Best Buddies is a non-profit organization that works toward a global movement of developing one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Last year, East Providence High school opened their own Best Buddies Chapter. The turn-out was great, but many students were still not aware that the after-school club was available.
This year, the club has again resumed activities, providing an opportunity for regular education and special education students alike. The club has been found to benefit everyone involved.
"I was matched to one-to-one friendship with my buddy last year and that friendship is still strong today," said Best Buddies President, Stephanie DeCarvalho." My buddy and I have been bowling, we went to prom together, and we have lunch often."
The Best Buddies program matches special needs students with club members, presenting an opportunity for friendships to form. The program has had a lasting effect on many students.
"My buddy reaches out to people now which is something he never did before," Stephanie said.
This past summer, Stephanie had the opportunity to attend the national Best Buddies Leadership Conference. Because it is an international organization, she met people from around the world. Stephanie claims in was a life-changing experience.
"I was able to learn about different disabilities and become friends with people from across the globe."
Through her experiences at the conference, Stephanie also began to recognize just how important Best Buddies could be in a place like EPHS.
"Students (and people in general) need to know that people with disabilities should be treated the right way because they really are just like everyone else," she said. "We have accepted that at East Providence High School."
So students, here is your opportunity to make a difference in the world.
Come to a Best Buddies meeting and join in on the rewarding fun. Meetings take place on the first Wednesday of every month, Room 150A. You can also find more information on the national organization at www.bestbuddiesonline.org.