Learning at Centre College occurs as much outside the classroom as it does in, and the experiential learning that happens when students participate in campus organizations and clubs is as educational as it is life-changing.
Best Buddies is one of many organizations that allows Centre students to gain knowledge and insight, experience personal growth and have an immediate impact on people in the area, primarily by pairing students with local residents who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.
Centre’s chapter of Best Buddies was founded in 2009 and quickly became a popular student organization. On March 10, the chapter held its annual celebration by screening a video created to build campus awareness.
Premiered on a big screen in Cowan, Centre’s dining hall, the group’s members hoped the video would “impact students on a deeper level and create a lasting connection and awareness of Best Buddies and its presence on campus,” says Samantha Cook ’17, president of Best Buddies at Centre.
Interviews with several members of Best Buddies are featured in the video, and Emma Jackson ’18 acted as videographer.
“The Buddies were so excited to talk on camera and have the opportunity to be in a video,” says Cook, but they were even more excited when watching it for the first time. “The Buddies were ecstatic and couldn’t get over seeing themselves on a movie screen,” she adds.
Greek life is a big part of student life at Centre and is focused on service, and the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority was involved in the celebration. Cook, the sorority’s service and philanthropy director, was joined by Emily McGlone ’18 and and Shenu Shah ’18, scholarship director and chief education officer for the sorority, respectively, to organize a letter-writing party to benefit Best Buddies.
Prior to the screening, and as part of their diversity educational requirement for Greek Review, members of the sorority wrote over 250 personal letters of encouragement to local Buddies. Daniel Noltemeyer, a Best Buddies Ambassador and the winner of the 2014 NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, and Brendan McNickle, program supervisor for Best Buddies Kentucky, provided inspiration.
Surprising the Buddies with the personal letters they had written topped off the March 10 event.
“I heard many times over how much it meant to the buddies to have a tangible thing to take with them,” says Cook, “to remind them how many people love them.”
Founded by Anthony K. Shriver in 1987, Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for people with IDD to develop one-on-one relationships, find employment, and gain leadership skills.
Best Buddies is committed to ending the social isolation that many of the estimated 200 million people with IDD experience, and does this by pairing people with and without IDD in one-on-one friendships. This helps the Buddies form meaningful relationships with their peers, live more independently, improve their communication skills, and simply feel valued by society.
Above: Members of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority celebrate Best Buddies Month.
by Mary Trollinger
March 29, 2016