By Staff Writer James Mellen III
A chapter of the non-profit organization Best Buddies has been formed at Umass Dartmouth. Best Buddies International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
The club is being founded by Junior Sociology major Anastasia Murphy, who is working with a Best Buddies coordinator to form the club. The club is being run by Murphy and Senior Sociology major Pamela Chet.
Murphy is forming the club because of her involvement in the Best Buddies chapter at Plymouth North High School, and was looking for similar way to get involved on campus, while assisting those with IDD. Chet wanted to fulfill her senior project requirement while connecting UmassD to children with IDD.
The club is going to work closely with Dartmouth High School and connect UMassD students with IDD students from Dartmouth High. This will allow for college students to help their buddies break through social barriers through a tough and influential time in a young person’s life. The club is friendship based, meaning that the relationship that members have with their buddies should be the same as the relationships that members have with their friends on campus.
There are two primary ways to get involved with the club on campus, one is to have a one to one relationship with a buddy, and the other is to attend monthly meetings and organized events to support the club.
Having a one to one relationship with a buddy would primarily entail hanging out with your buddy at least two times a month. It would also include attending two monthly meetings and attending organized events. Hanging out with a buddy could include activities ranging from playing video games to going to a movie.
There will also be other ways to support the club is you’re unable to make the commitment to a full time buddy, there will be fundraising events in the future. Murphy said that one way that the chapter she used to belong to in Plymouth raised money is by having car washes with buddies and members of the club.
Updates on how the club can be joined are on The Black Market, or can be found on the remind 101 app using the code @gc8hg9. There will be more meetings with the club in the near future.
My younger brother was born with a duel diagnostic of Down’s Syndrome and Autism, and it has been one of the most important and rewarding relationships I’ve had throughout my life.
My brother used to play in various sports leagues with Best Buddies, so I spent every Sunday for almost five years playing sports with kids with IDD, and it’s a lot of fun. The friendships I’ve formed with kids with IDD who aren’t my brother have been some of the purest and best friendships I’ve ever had.
Having a brother with Down’s Syndrome has also taught me a lot of the stigma that can surround people who have IDD. Some people get noticeably uncomfortable when you walk into their establishment with a kid with Down’s syndrome in the wheelchair in front of you. It’s not because they don’t like kids like my brother, it’s just that they aren’t used to seeing people like him.
Best Buddies is an organization that helps put an end to the stigma that people with IDD can face. People with IDD are just like everyone else, we just live in a society that makes it seem like they’re not sometimes. But that’s not fair, and by forming a friendship with someone with IDD you’re helping end that unfairness.
So go join Best Buddies it’s good for you, and it’s good for someone with IDD and it’s punk rock.