Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization 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 (IDD).
Best Buddies has been at Creekside Middle School since 2008. The program has grown from 25 members the first year to 145 in years past. Peer buddies (students without a disability) are matched in one-to-one friendships with a buddy (students with a disability).
Students who are interested in being a peer buddy or associate in Best Buddies must fill out a survey and have two teacher references sheets turned in. Peers must then attend a five-minute interview with Best Buddies Advisors. The interview is to find out what each peer/associate knows about disabilities and their comfort level. We do not want a student to feel scared or uncomfortable around their buddy. If accepted in the program, peers are matched with a buddy with the same interests and grade level when possible.
Matches are required to see each other at least once a week. They have lunch together, see each other outside of school, visit each other classrooms, and attend monthly events. Peer Buddies are required to fill out an online Friendship Update at the end of each month. This lets advisors and program managers know if matches need some support and if they are seeing each other.
Each month, Best Buddies officers and advisors plan an event. Some of the events have been included: crafts, fitness day, painting pumpkins or making ornaments, playing board games, cleaning Hercules Road, movies, and visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus.