By: Laura Green
This month Spread The Word to End The Word day was on March 2nd, 2016, but schools have been doing everything they can to raise awareness about STWTETW all throughout the month of March. From taking the pledge online to coordinating in-school activities, student leaders have worked tirelessly to end the use of the very hurtful and derogatory term “retarded”. Best Buddies participants are very passionate about this time of the year, as this word is still used every day. The people who use this word are usually just very unaware of the history behind the word and the population of people that it hurts.
BEST BUDDIES YLC
Joining Best Buddies
Picture this: it’s the first day of highschool and I’m watching the clock in English class tick on, hoping the minutes will slow down because my next block is lunch and I have no idea who I will be sitting with. “Sitting by yourself can’t be that bad…” I remember thinking to myself. As luck would have it, I was able to make friends quickly that first day. Although I appreciated their kindness and invitation to let me sit with them, I remember thinking “This doesn’t feel right.” Although these friends were always open to listening to events about my day, our conversations were surface deep. Don’t get me wrong, these new friends were nice, funny and definitely great people to be around. Their ability to get along with anyone just fine was just one of their admirable qualities. The thing is, as a fearful freshman, I never talked about the things that were truly troubling me. How could I ask these new friends, who seemed so confident and prepared to handle the year, for help and advice? There was no way I was going to let them know I was struggling to adjust. In the weeks to come, I found an organization that changed my life and taught me that I wasn’t the only who felt the struggle of fitting in.
Kellie M. Howard & Noemi Reyes
Best Buddies YLC
Starting with communication
Best Buddies is known for inclusion, respect for others, and friendship. When it comes to everyday events, sometimes conflicts may arise. This is normal. It happens within families, among close friends and large groups. When there is a whirl of different personalities, people may voice different opinions. It is not so important that conflicts arise, but the ways in which we handle them.
“If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.”
Best Buddies YLC
This past June I graduated from high school and I was lucky enough to have experienced classes with the inclusion of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). I was able to compare this experience to classrooms that were not inclusive. I witnessed a huge difference in the atmosphere of the classroom, the social aspect among peers and an overall more positive classroom experience.
An aspect that stood out to me was the patience exuded by all students. If a student with an intellectual or developmental disability needed further explanation or clarification of subject material in the classroom, there were no set backs or detriments to the progress of the class. Everyone was patient when this happened, and if it was a group project that a student with IDD had trouble with, the other students had no problem modifying or explaining it themselves, in fact they were happy to do so.
I liked the performance from Marlana and I enjoyed all of the speakers. When I was a speech coach, it was a good thing. Leadership Conference gets more awesome every year. It is the best Leadership Conference. It does not need to change because all the new people that attend Conference improve it by bringing their awesomeness with them to the conference. It is a tool of knowledge that makes you a leader. My experience at Leadership Conference was awesome. I loved it every minute. It was my 8th time going. I loved the dance and all of the things I mentioned before!
By: Lyle Freeman
My second Leadership Conference experience was just as, if not more, amazing than the first. I was so unbelievably lucky to have the opportunity to come back, this time as a member of the Young Leaders Council. Upon arrival, I felt as if I were home, yet I had only been at the conference once prior. The atmosphere evokes a welcoming, familial feeling. One of my many favorite parts of the conference was the Opening Ceremony. The performances were incredibly moving and goose-bump inducing. The overall energy is honestly indescribable. I could physically feel the warm energy and love radiating as the erupting applause filled the auditorium. I absolutely loved being surrounded by thousands of people who share the same unwavering passion for Best Buddies that I do. Being in a room filled with such kindness and devotion shows the boundless expanse of Best Buddies. It shows me just how extensive the dedication to the beautiful cause spans. You feel like you’re part of something bigger.
Best Buddies has grown substantially and is continuing to grow each and every day. The presentations were extremely informative and inspiring. I learned so much from the classes I took last year, so having the opportunity to help facilitate sessions to teach others was another one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Being able to give a helping hand to make the Best Buddies magic happen was so rewarding. I also adore everyone that I met throughout the weekend. I met the most genuine, enthusiastic, driven individuals that I am now lucky enough to call my friends. Being part of the YLC is amazing because I feel even more connected to the wonderful cause that is Best Buddies. I hope to inspire others to get more involved with Best Buddies, the cause that changed my life. The closing of the weekend is bittersweet: saying goodbye to such an inspiring weekend is quite difficult, yet the memories and lessons learned will resonate with me forever.
By: Shayna DelVeccio
The purpose of Town Hall Calls is to connect chapter leaders across the country to foster innovative ideas, to allow for peer-to-peer problem solving and support, and to develop a network to meet the mission of Best Buddies. On these calls peer leaders will work together and with state offices to better understand our role in the movement and to develop creative solutions to overcome common challenges and ensure longevity and success. Topics are geared towards either college or high school programs, altering on a monthly basis. These conference calls have structured agendas with quest speakers, but also provide a relaxed format where you are encouraged to share your stories and ask questions. Be sure to check out the topics we plan to discuss this year and sign up for the Town Hall Call(s) that interest you! The link to the sign-up page can be found HERE
*All calls will be held at 4:00 PM EST the first Sunday of every month (unless otherwise noted) alternating months between calls aimed at college students and calls aimed at high school students.
- August 2, COLLEGE: Recruitment
- September 13 (Labor Day Weekend), HIGH SCHOOL: Recruitment
- October 4, COLLEGE: Fostering Positive Host Site Relationships
- November 1, HIGH SCHOOL: Holiday Events
- December 6, COLLEGE: Re-engage and Re-energize: Planning events and developing systems that will help you welcome back chapter members and ensure your chapter stays strong during the second semester.
- January 3, HIGH SCHOOL: Re-engage and Re-energize: Planning events and developing systems that will help you welcome back chapter members and ensure your chapter stays strong after the holidays.
- February 7, COLLEGE: Spread the Word to End the Word
- March 6, HIGH SCHOOL: Friendship Walks
- April 3, COLLEGE: Keeping the Momentum Going: A look at exciting end of the year events, effective leadership transition, and maintaining membership
- May 1, HIGH SCHOOL: Keeping the Momentum Going: A look at exciting end of the year events, effective leadership transition, and maintaining membership
- June 5, COLLEGE & HIGH SCHOOL: Leadership Conference: What to expect and how to get the most out of your experience
Fun chats, awesome performances and cool events. When I first arrived in Bloomington, Indiana I had no idea what was in store for me. During the opening ceremony as Best Buddies staff, students and passionate volunteers sang “Call Me Maybe” I stood in the Indiana University auditorium taking in the energy of the Best Buddies Leadership Conference of 2013. Now in 2015 I sit here eagerly awaiting my third LC experience. You maybe asking yourself, “What makes LC so special?” And I’m here to tell you that it’s not “What” but “Who” that makes LC so special. I’ve had the opportunity to attend and teach workshops at the conference but I can honestly say that the students at LC have taught me more than I could have ever taught them. My favorite experience was the World Café where I was able to share ideas with passionate student leaders from all around the world. This experience instilled a motivation within me that still moves me today. It put into perspective all our efforts and showed me that the Best Buddies mission is truly achievable. I caught a glimpse of a world where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities would be recognized for their abilities rather than their “disabilities.” I saw a future where no one would use the R word to bring someone down. A place where people would be viewed and accepted for who they are. The students at the World Café showed me that change is possible if we work together. For those of you heading to leadership conference this year I encourage you to share your dreams and goals with others. It is a place where you will see your dreams reflected in people around you who will stop at nothing to make them a reality.
I wish you the best of luck,
As a recent graduate of Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, I can honestly go on and on about how inclusive Chaparral is towards students with disabilities. Throughout my five years of high school, I was able to vote for school’s Homecoming King and Queen, attend the Arizona DECA Fall Leadership Conference with Chaparral High School’s DECA chapter, guest star on the school announcements and try out Improv during Theatre 1 class. I often had teachers and students alike say hi to me when I walked around the campus. I really do credit our Best Buddies chapter and the school’s administration team for helping make the campus more inclusive towards students with disabilities. I often sat with my peer buddies at lunch or during school-wide assemblies and they made EVERY effort to introduce me to their friends and teachers. In the end, I became a CELEBRITY within Chaparral.
Below are some suggestions of ways for schools to become more inclusive towards people of all abilities:
The 2014-2015 year has been one of charitable memories for Best Buddies chapters around the world. Members were able to partake in awesome events such as Spread the Word to End the Word, the Best Buddies friendship walk and most importantly all the fun activities year round with their buddies. As the year continues, members remain excited for the Best Buddies Leadership Conference occurring July 17th-20th in Bloomington, Indiana. The energy remains strong but with the hot summer months just around the corner and school letting out, the YLC would love to share the ways in which you can maintain strong friendships with your buddies over the summer.
Just last year, former YLC chair Erica Brody climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in an effort to raise money for the YLC! In the end, she was able to make a beautiful donation to the YLC, making the climb very successful. But what was going to happen with the money that Erica raised? The YLC decided to follow our mission and support students in Best Buddies! Now YOU have the chance to show us how your chapter demonstrates creative, innovative, and sustainable thinking and you may even be awarded funding for that thinking!
The Chapter Innovation Challenge is a way for students in Best Buddies to get their idea for an innovative event funded by the YLC. Come up with an amazing event that is out of the box, and is something that you have wanted to do, but haven’t had the funds to do it. This is a once in a lifetime chance for chapters who can demonstrate detailed planning and organization. Learn more about this opportunity and complete the application at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14Jz-nLbRyxMmsL5AvOopOsRi_AgwIkpgIHmwCiUaRFU/viewform