According to Best Buddies Advisory Board Chair Rand Huguely,
“The state motto of Texas is ‘Friendship.’ Everyone deserves to form meaningful friendships with their peers, yet students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) go unnoticed in their schools every day. Even more heartbreaking, they are often bullied because they look or act differently. Help us change that.
“Founded 30 years ago by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Our wish this year is that you will help spread the message of inclusion by participating in and supporting our Friendship Walk on Saturday, April 25, in the beautiful city of Farmer’s Branch. We anticipate about 1,000 Buddies, Peer Buddies, friendship teams and corporate sponsor teams to walk to raise funds as well as to raise awareness of Best Buddies.
“Linda Kordek Milton, who was recently named State Director, Texas for Best Buddies International, says, ‘10% of the students in a given school district have a disability. In Dallas ISD alone, that means 12,000 students need friends! We currently have 62 school programs in North Texas – from elementary through college – and we want to increase that number to 100 in the next 12 months!’
“The Friendship program provides participants the unique opportunity to promote more inclusive school and community environments while establishing meaningful one-to-one friendships between those with and without IDD.
“Best Buddies Ambassadors is a program that provides training for participants with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities in areas of speech writing, public speaking, self-advocacy, and leadership. The Ambassadors program creates opportunities for participants to advocate for their passions and promote Best Buddies program while also supporting Social Emotional Learning.
“Best Buddies Jobs provides supported employment to adults with IDD. Through the Jobs program, we assist individuals with IDD in locating and maintaining fully integrated employment in the field of their choosing, working side by side with colleagues who do not have IDD.
“Our Citizens Program is a Friendship program for Adults. Best Buddies is unique in that it teaches inclusion and fosters lifelong friendships and connections as early as Elementary School through college and into adulthood. Everything about Best Buddies requires the interaction to be integrated among people with and without IDD, thereby fostering inclusion on every level.
“Will you help us give the Gift of Friendship this Christmas?
* Graphic/photo provided by Best Buddies