Indiana Chapters – “Re-Engaging and Re-Inspiring” Chapter Members after a Break

We all know the feeling – you’ve just gotten back from a long, relaxing winter break and it’s time for your Best Buddies chapter to get back into the swing of things.  So how do you re-engage and re-inspire your chapter members after the long break?  What are some fun “welcome back” events chapters are holding to do this?  To answer these questions, several Best Buddies chapters throughout the state of Indiana have provided us with their awesome ideas!  Check it out below!

Riverside Junior High School, Fishers IN:

We had a “fitness” after school event in the gym.  We had out the basketballs, scooters, volleyballs, hula hoops, etc. to get people moving around.  We’ve been inside for weeks, not doing too much because of the cold and snow – so it was a nice change to be able to be loud, run around, and have fun with our friends.  We played some music too and served snacks and water.  It was the first full week back to school – and we had a good turnout.  I think just doing something a little more “informal” [made the event so re-inspiring and re-engaging].  It allowed the kids some less structured time to just hang out.  They could choose what they wanted to do, they didn’t have to be quiet, there weren’t too many boundaries, and the active component was enticing – the kids LOVE to roll around on the scooters! 

  — Emily Mitchell, Advisor

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Clay Middle School, Carmel, IN:

Our meeting theme was making a book of visuals to help students (buddies) understand daily school procedures and expectations.  All of the members helped to create social stories and pictures to include in this book.  The content of the book was based on assessing our student needs and making sure that we covered many topics.  The peers and their buddies all felt that this was a worthwhile activity and a great time to re-connect after a long winter break and lots of snow days!  Everyone had a great time!

 — Jackie Dorman and Leyla Niese, Advisors

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Hamilton Southeastern High School, Fishers, IN:

We held our first event at Skyzone, which is an indoor trampoline park!  It was a really fun activity for everyone who was able to attend.  The important thing is to have your first event as soon as possible to get the ball rolling….the longer you wait to have your first event, the harder it will be to get your chapter members motivated.  One thing I learned from last year is that it’s really important to give your chapter members plenty of time to make arrangements to attend. Things done last minute with your chapter are very hard to make successful!  [Also] don’t stress about how many members do or do not attend your first event! When planning your first event make sure you are open to ideas and willing to try something new!

— Megan Smith, Chapter President

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Franklin Community High School, Franklin, IN:

We all just hung out, watched a movie, and had popcorn.  We took a couple weeks to plan it out before the event took place.  [The event was so re-inspiring and re-engaging because] we were all just happy to see each other again.

 — Emilee Abercrombie, Chapter President

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Ball State University, Muncie, IN:

Our first event of the semester was a Super Bowl Party. To make sure the event was a success, we planned the event weeks ahead of time to allow all of our members to incorporate the event into their schedule. We also had a lot of different activities for our buddies to do together like board games, corn hole, face painting, and football crafts such as paper footballs and goal posts. Lastly, we also had snacks — which are always a big hit. The most re-engaging aspect of the event was the fact that we were able to have a variety of smaller activities to allow pairs to really hang out together. Everyone really enjoyed the laid-back environment.

 —Keya Sartin, Chapter President

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University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN:

For this semester, Best Buddies Notre Dame planned a very relaxed welcome back event. We really wanted to get buddies to come together and be able to talk about their breaks and make plans for the remainder of the semester. We were also introducing some new buddy pairs who were rematched for the semester due to students studying abroad. We decided to call the event a “sock hop” and give it a bit of a retro feel by playing dance music and making ice cream sodas. We also set up a photo booth for students and buddies to get together and take fun pictures which we will print and distribute later this semester.  We made sure to get in touch with peer buddies a few weeks in advance to provide them with the full semester schedule.  I think what made the event so engaging was the fact that it was a little less structured than our usual events.  This was a perfect welcome back event because everyone was able to more casually catch up.  It kind of naturally encouraged people to get together and talk, and remember why they joined Best Buddies!  We [also] have a number of new and different events planned for our chapter and we hope to keep everyone engaged and energized by the mission of Best Buddies.

— Kelly Keenan, Chapter President

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So there you have it, some fantastic event ideas from just a few local Indiana chapters!  Did your chapter host an exciting welcome back event?  We’d love to hear about it!  Tweet us @BestBuddiesYLC.  Many thanks to all those who contributed!!!

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One response to “Indiana Chapters – “Re-Engaging and Re-Inspiring” Chapter Members after a Break”

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