A Friendship Program
Best Buddies builds friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), offering social mentoring while improving the quality of life and level of inclusion for a population that is often isolated and excluded. Throughout their participation, people with an IDD form meaningful connections with their peers, gain self-confidence and self-esteem, and share interests, experiences and activities that many other individuals take for granted.
How it Works
The Best Buddies high school program brings together high school students with and without an IDD in the hope that they will develop lasting friendships.
Instead, the entire Best Buddies Chapter meets once weekly or bi-weekly for group activities such as playing board games, crafts, holiday celebrations, etc.
There are many different ways for schools to run the program but we recommend implementing one of the two following options:
Students with and without an IDD are matched based on shared interests. “Buddy Pairs” have weekly contact (text, social media message, etc.) and get together in school or outside of school. All Chapter participants attend group activities a few times throughout the academic year.
Students are not formally paired. Instead, the entire Best Buddies chapter meets once a week or bi-weekly for group activities such as playing board games, crafts, holiday celebrations etc.
High school Chapters are led by a leadership team which includes a staff member (Staff Advisor) and a few highly motivated and responsible students (Executive Members) who plan and execute group activities for the entire Chapter to enjoy throughout the year. The team is supported by a Best Buddies staff member.
To Get Started
Starting Best Buddies at your high school is simple.
A staff member (e.g. a special education teacher) who assists students with volunteer recruitment and works with the school’s administration. They are also a contact for the students if they have concerns as well as a general support person for the Chapter Leadership Team.
A high school student responsible for the leadership of the chapter. Tasks include administration, delegation of responsibility, and recruitment of volunteers with the goal of establishing a strong Chapter. The Chapter President is also the main contact for students and Best Buddies staff.
A student who helps the Chapter President to lead, organize and maintain a Best Buddies chapter at his/her high school. An Executive Member can have a specific role within the Chapter Leadership Team, for example, Fundraising Coordinator, Social Media Coordinator or Recruitment Coordinator.
A student with an intellectual disability who is a member of a Best Buddies Chapter and is paired with a high school student in a one-to-one friendship.
A high school student who is a member of a Best Buddies chapter, who is paired up with a student with an intellectual disability.
A chapter member who is not paired with a Buddy. Associate Members can assist with planning activities and events, fundraising, marketing and can attend group activities.