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Best Buddies Canada

Best Buddies Story Spotlight: Romir Robinson and Minaxi Sharma

Minaxi and Romir

Minaxi Sharma, a twelfth-grade student at Brampton Centennial Secondary School, and Romir Robinson, a ninth-grade Life Skills student, have formed a lifelong bond through their school’s Best Buddies program.

Minaxi was first introduced to Best Buddies when an information session at school left a lasting impression on her. “I wanted to spend time with people who I wouldn’t generally spend time with,” she explains. “I’ve dedicated at least one lunch a week to spend time with these individuals and over the past couple of years I’ve grown to cherish the friendships I’ve formed.”

Romir, who was new to the school, was also eager to join Best Buddies and make new friends. Ms. Bassan, a Life Skills teacher and Brampton Centennial’s Best Buddies Staff Advisor, oversaw their first meeting. She paired Minaxi and Romir in a one-to-one friendship, and they immediately hit it off. “It was easy to be around each other,” Minaxi says. “I love coming to school to spend time with friends like Romir.”

From that instant connection, their bond quickly developed. Minaxi and Romir developed a routine of playing games and going for walks together at lunchtime. One of their favourite things to do is visit the school’s classroom turtle. Whether they work on a puzzle, read books, or simply chat, they’re always happy to spend quality time together. “As the months went on, Romir’s excitement increased and so did mine,” Minaxi says. “Our relationship evolved from its beginning stages into a really close friendship.”

Minaxi and Romir at a Best Buddies lunch

Their friendship has even evolved beyond the program, and they often spend time together outside of school. Recently, Minaxi and Romir went to a Raptors game with their friend, Cheyenne. “Guess what? The Raptors won!” Romir smiles. “We got to see the dinosaur.”

Although attending a new school can often be an isolating experience for many students, Romir has felt more comfortable adjusting to his new environment because of the Best Buddies community at Brampton Centennial and his one-to-one friendship with Minaxi. When asked what he most admires about Minaxi, he has no shortage of answers: “One of the things I like is Minaxi is nice to me and she loves me,” he says. “She cares about me and spends time with me. She’s kind and always funny.”

Minaxi’s participation in Best Buddies has had a profound impact on her understanding of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and her views towards inclusivity and friendship. “It’s definitely enlightened me to realize that these kids are just like any other human being,” she says. “Being friends with [Life Skills students] is just as important as being friends with your classmates. I admire Romir’s kindness and constant empathy for others.” Best Buddies has also impacted the general school community. More and more mainstream students are consistently showing up to Best Buddies events which “makes the experience for the buddies and the kids more enjoyable.”

A standout moment for Minaxi occurred earlier this year when her family donated Best Buddies T-shirts to everyone at the chapter. She reflects on how emotional it was to hand out the T-shirts and see the positive impact they had on the students. “It made me realize that what I’m doing is bigger than myself,” she shares. “Romir said some very kind words that that just touched my heart. I feel proud when I wear my shirt that I’m part of this initiative.”

Minaxi encourages anyone considering joining Best Buddies to “be open minded.” She explains that the friendship between a peer buddy and buddy is supposed to grow. Even though this takes time and development, it’s worth it at the end of the day.

Minaxi and Romir’s story attests to the transformative power of friendship and the impact of inclusive programs like Best Buddies. By breaking down barriers and fostering a genuine connection, they’ve built a more compassionate school community and found a friend for life.