The Best Buddies chapter at Concordia brings awareness to various disabilities
Best Buddies is a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There are currently Best Buddies chapters in every Canadian province and in over 50 additional countries. Concordia has its own Best Buddies chapter.
Students who join Best Buddies go through an interviewing process with their chapter president, where they are matched with a buddy. Buddies are adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities. They are matched based on common interests.
Once matched, buddy pairs are expected to be in contact through phone or email once a week and meet in person twice a month. This year Concordia’s Best Buddies members have gone bowling, gone to the museum and watched a Concordia Stingers men’s hockey game.
Kristyn Wright, one of the founders of the Best Buddies chapter at Concordia, said that the purpose behind establishing the chapter was to “provide the same types of friendship experience we all enjoy to a group of people who may not have this same opportunity.”
Ashton Golding, current president of Concordia’s Best Buddies, said seeing her buddy and the smile on her face whenever they spend time together is the most rewarding feeling. She strongly encourages everyone to get involved because there is no feeling quite like being a friend.
“It’s not a responsibility, it’s about having fun and getting to know your buddy,” said Poppy Baktis, logistical and financial coordinator for the Centre of Arts in Human Development.
There is no emphasis on the distinction between students and the participants of the program as everyone is referred to as a buddy or friend. Golding said it’s great to see so many friendships being built.
“Many of the things people with developmental disabilities struggle with are the same kinds of needs or wants that every student has had some experience with,” Wright added.
Although Best Buddies Canada has come a long way since their establishment in 1993, they are still striving to achieve their long-term goal to make every school and community across Canada more inclusive and accepting of people with intellectual disabilities.
“They are people just like us and we are all equal. We all have emotions, likes, dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses,” said Golding. “Their disability does not mean that they are different from anyone else.”
For more information or to join Best Buddies, visit bestbuddies.ca.