The Best Buddies chapter at NCHS is now reviewing all applications for students hoping to be paired with a “buddy”, other students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for the 2016-2017 school year. Best Buddies is an organization within schools that foster one-to-one relationships between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
“I think the goal is to integrate our gen-ed students with the special-ed students here,” Sam Kortkamp (11) President of Normal Community Best Buddies Chapter, said, “and get those boundaries demolished.”
High school is a time of heightened social and emotional development and can be difficult for all students, Best Buddies helps students break through social barriers at an important time in a young person’s life.
Normal Community’s Best Buddy program has 67 active members and about 20 “Buddy” student pairings, holding events monthly.
This October, the group’s board members decided to hold a fall related event and are working to integrate Halloween.
The chapter also attends the annual Friendship Walk in May. Later that month, they plan to host a dance where all Best Buddy members and pairs can socialize and have fun.
“I think it means that they’re part of the high school community, just like every other student and that they can form friendships and participate in events, ” said Mrs. Erin Sanders, the group’s adviser and a special education teacher, on what it means to students with IDD to be paired with a buddy.
“And feel like they belong,” added special education teacher Mrs. Brandy Sherrick.
This program in local schools builds equality among all students. Establishing relationships with all students creates the feeling of belonging in their school, an experience that can impact a student’s life.
“It’s that push that some people need to get more of what is out there,” said Kortkamp.
Best Buddies is a nation-wide program and beyond, Kortkamp attended a leadership conference over the summer, meeting other chapter members people who came from Mexico and all other places across the world.
Normal Community’s chapter will link with other local chapters to hold events like a Friendship Walk.
Students that are still looking to get involved with the Best Buddy program can still join as associate members and participate in chapter events, but they will not be paired with a buddy for this school year.
Students looking to get involved or wanting more information about this organization should contact President Sam Kortkamp, or advisers, Brandy Sherrick ([email protected]), Erin Sanders ([email protected]), Mrs. Angie Cardiff or Mrs. Amy Veselak.