Looking for a friend, or perhaps a best buddy?
Best Buddies, which was founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shrivers, is an international nonprofit organization that pairs intellectually disabled adults with college students. The intention is to improve the lives of both participants and create lasting friendships.
Daniel Wakeham, Best Buddies Chair at Weber State University, got involved with the program while he was searching for service opportunities.
“The Best Buddies program is a lot of fun, and a great way to get involved and do service,” Wakeman said.
Currently the Best Buddies program at Weber State has more buddies than they do student volunteers. The program is actively looking for more students to get involved. The Best Buddies program is a school-year-long commitment and it is the volunteer’s responsibility to stay in contact with their buddy and attend events.
Kyle Simmons, a former Weber State University student, decided to join Best Buddies when his friend suggested it. Since then, Simmons said he’s learned a lot from his buddy, Forest.
“The program is more beneficial for me than it is for the Best Buddies, the kids are really smart and are extremely good at teaching you to enjoy the simple things in life, I’ve learned a lot from Forest,” Simmons said. “ Forest is not a program, he is my friend, and my best buddy.”
Students have the opportunity to learn patience and a better understanding of what life is like through disabled buddies eyes. The memories that will be made will be unforgettable and life changing.
Best Buddies has eight formal programs, one of which includes College programs. Weber State’s Best Buddies College program offers opportunities to offer a Buddy many group activities such as movie nights, bowling and pizza, carnivals, WSU basketball and football games, a Valentines dance and Lagoon Day. You also have the option to schedule your own activities with your buddy.
Joseph Maes, Director of Special Needs, has been involved with Best Buddies for two years. He got involved with the program when he was involved with the Special Olympics as the chair through the Center for Community Engaged Learning at Weber State.
“Don’t be afraid to get out of your element and get out of your comfort zone,” Maes said.
When working with a Best Buddy, Weber State asks students to contact their buddy once a week via text, email or phone calls. They also ask that they attend organized group activities and see their buddies twice a month.
This is one way to get involved and help change society’s views on people with disabilities.
To join the Best Buddies program here at Weber State, go to the CCEL office on the third floor of the Student Union building and fill out a questionnaire. From there, students will be matched with a Buddy.