Best Buddies helps raise others up


Lindsey Tolliver

Some of the members involved in high school Best Buddies. Best Buddies is a club with many hands-on activities to help the buddies become more confident. One of the club's main goals is to make everyone in our school more aware of students with disabilities. Austin Woods (9), Aaron Slaysman (9), and Jeremy Markovic (11).


Best Buddies, an inspirational club that is in over 50 countries, is known for helping people of all ages that have intellectual and developmental disabilities succeed through school, and every day activities. The Best Buddies club here at Patterson Mill creates strong friendship bonds, job opportunities, and leadership skills. Best Buddies also helps boost people’s confidence and works on social skills. This program doesn’t just affect the people involved in the club, it affects the whole school in a positive way to become more aware of people with these disabilities.

According to the official Best Buddies website, the club was founded in 1989. “It is positively impacting the lives of 1.1 million people with and without IDD (intellectual developmental disease).” Each person involved in this club is assigned one buddy with a disability to watch after. They learn to have their buddy’s back in every situation. They encourage their buddy’s strengths and guide them through their weaknesses. Buddies are able to partake in this organization all throughout college as well. Best Buddies gives many people job opportunities, if they chose to continue with their buddy in college. If you’re involved with your buddy in high school, you can become a camp counselor during the summers at Harford Community College.“Best Buddies gives people with special needs a chance to speak up, be heard and advocate for themselves and others within their community,” says Maria Shriver, a Best Buddy Global Ambassador. It helps people with leadership and showing that no matter who you are you have a voice.

“It’s more than a friendship, it’s like one big family,” says Callie Sanders-Testerman (9), a member of the Best Buddies Club here at PMHS. The buddies always have someone to count on when they’re in school. They always have someone to support them. If they’re going through a hard time they have their buddy to help guide them through it. In this club the buddies go on many field trips, like local farms. This gives everyone a chance to interact with their buddy outside of school. The students in the club communicate with their buddy inside and outside of school. They talk outside of school by Face Timing their buddy to catch up on what’s happening.

“Our programs empowers special disabilities of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaker, self-advocacy, and communication skills,” according to the official Best Buddies website. Mrs. Barbara Tharpe, the adviser of Best Buddies here at Patterson Mill, has been a part of this program for 3 years. She says her favorite part about the organization is, “the relationships which are formed between the peers and their buddies. It makes such a difference to the individuals with disabilities to be accepted.” Not only is it important for the buddies to be accepted in school, it impacts how they feel outside of school.  Unfortunately, it is harder to get a job when you have learning disabilities. 81% of adults with developmental disabilities do not have a paid job in the United States, says the Best Buddies website. One of the club’s goals is to make that percentage higher and give more job opportunities. Best Buddies can help them earn a living and live independently. The buddies learn self-advocacy and how to feel more comfortable and confident with the people around them. They find their own voice and learn to stand up from themselves. Leadership is a big part in Best Buddies, it’s so important that the club offers programs that can help others with leadership skills. According to the Best Buddies official website, “…leadership program participants can lead the effort within their community and beyond to build a more inclusive world for people with IDD.”

Best Buddies does many fundraisers and raises awareness in our school in many ways. They have fundraisers at Panera, and Chick-Fil-A. They have pledges people can take; for example, people sign posters to not use hurtful words towards people with these disabilities. This year the club has gone to a corn maze/pumpkin farm, and movies. Best Buddies is also planning to go bowling and participate in a talent show. These activities bring the whole school together and make everyone aware of children with these disabilities. It encourages people to be kind to one another and accept everyone. According to the Best Buddies official website, over 52,000 people with and without IDD in Maryland are being positively affected by this program. Best Buddies is positively impacting our community for the better.
Best Buddies is a great club to spread the awareness of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Throughout the club the person someone is assigned to is their main focus. People in this club are working to help them become more confident and be able to speak up for themselves. “It’s a great club with a great meaning, it opens up people’s eyes and makes them more aware of people of all ages who have these disabilities,” says Callie Sanders-Testerman.  “I really enjoy working with my students in life skills and getting to know other students has been great,” says Tharpe. Best Buddies is an international organization which opens many opportunities for all. The members benefit from long lasting friendships that turn into family.