Overview of Best Buddies
Best Buddies Canada is a national registered charity that promotes inclusion by creating lasting one-to-one friendships between individuals living with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD and Autism Spectrum Disorder).
To establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Our program helps alleviate loneliness and isolation and builds leadership skills, independence, and confidence through friendships. Our vision for the future is a world that fosters awareness and inclusion and supports individuals with an IDD.
What we offer
Best Buddies firmly believes that friendship is important in the development of all people. For people with intellectual disabilities, friendship is a medium through which they become active members of the community. Our program offers people with intellectual disabilities the chance to participate in experiences that most of us take for granted: going for coffee, going to the movies, or just spending time with a friend.
We provide opportunities for inclusion, social engagement, leadership, and personal growth for individuals with and without an IDD. Check to see if a Best Buddies program is in your school or area.
What they Say
Ashlee & Laura
Friends for 3 years
Friendship means the world to me especially when COVID hit , If it were not for Best Buddies I wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience things in our community, as well have an awesome Friendship with Laura. We love to go to the bookstore and Starbucks. What I love about Laura is she’s patient, understanding and doesn’t see me as “different”.
- Ashlee (buddy), 2023
Haris & Dylan
University of Regina
Friends for 8 years
Our friendship would not have been possible without the Best Buddies platform. I can confidently say that the friendship made through Best Buddies is life-changing. Thanks to Dylan, I have become more engaged in supporting people with disabilities, and he has shared many resources and experiences with me.”
- Haris (peer buddy), 2023
Lauren & Jessica
University of Guelph-Humber/Humber College
Friends for 3 years
As soon as we met we realized we had so much in common, and without a second thought we decided to be our Chapter’s first Buddy Pair!
- Lauren (Peer Buddy), 2022
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Frequently Asked Questions
An intellectual disability, also referred to as a developmental disability, is a term used to describe any condition that includes a lifelong impairment to a person’s ability to learn or adapt to their environment.
An intellectual disability is not the same as a mental illness, psychological disability, learning disability or psychiatric condition. An intellectual disability refers to a group of disorders in one or more central nervous system processes, casuing a disability to appear in one or several of the following: reasoning, processing, memory, calculation, coordination, social interaction, and emotional articulation. People with intellectual disabilities do not necessarily have a recognizable condition. The degree of disability can vary greatly from person to person, as everyone is an individual.
Some examples of intellectual disabilities include Down Syndrome and William’s Syndrome. Although not an intellectual disability, people on the Autism Spectrum are also welcome to join Best Buddies.
To take part in the Best Buddies Program, volunteers with and without intellectual disabilities agree to be paired with each other for one school year. The pairs are then responsible for contacting each other once a week by telephone, e-mail, letter or note; meeting each other twice a month for a one-to-one activity, and participating in group activities during the school year.
Each volunteer is responsible for covering their own costs for one-to-one activities. It is not the responsibility of one volunteer to pay for another. Each volunteer is also responsible for arranging their own transportation to one-to-one activities.
Safety is a very high priority at Best Buddies Canada. Volunteers with and without intellectual disabilities are carefully screened using a variety of methods, including an application form, one reference check, criminal records check, an information session, and ongoing monitoring by Best Buddies staff.
We all do! The friendships formed through the Best Buddies Program add a new dimension to the lives of all people involved. A Best Buddies friendship also helps to build acceptance amongst the volunteers and in the community.
Elementary/Middle and High School Programs:
The first step is to find out if your child’s school has the Best Buddies program. You can ask the school administration or e-mail email@example.com with your child’s school name and what city and province you are located it. We can let you know.
If there is a program running there, contact your child’s teacher and express interest in participating. It is up to school staff to coordinate participation at individual schools.
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your city and province and we can assist you in getting in touch with the closest Best Buddies Chapter to you.
For further inquiries please call the Head Office at 1-888-779-0061.
As a guardian, your role is to support the friendship and to help foster a positive relationship between the two volunteers. This may mean answering questions about your child/ward or helping with transportation to activities and to one-to-one outings. Please do not hesitate in contacting the Host Site Coordinator/Special Education Advisor or the Head Office with any questions or concerns you may have.
The role of Best Buddies Canada is to help new Chapters get started across Canada, answer questions from teachers, parents, and children/youth about Best Buddies and to provide support to our Chapters. We also hold Conferences and fundraisers throughout the year.
A chapter is what we call a school with an active Best Buddies club.