People who are diagnosed with autism or other developmental disabilities often find themselves feeling isolated and looking for resources available to them in their local communities. Best Buddies® is an organization that exists to fill this void and works to offer assistance to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injury, by fostering one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for those who have been diagnosed.
According to the organization’s mission, volunteers develop meaningful friendships with peers, which allows participants to gain self-confidence and share interests, experiences, and activities. They also help individuals to achieve success through work, to live independently, and to feel valued.
The program is divided by age groups as follows:
Best Buddies Middle Schools: Fosters one-to-one friendships between middle school students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Best Buddies High Schools: As they advance to high school, students encounter a time of heightened social and emotional development that can be difficult even for teenagers without IDD. The program helps break through social barriers at an important time in a young person’s life.
Best Buddies College: Provides the opportunity for students to be involved in their local campus and community life. For those in the community, Best Buddies® Citizens supports the development of friendships between adults with and without IDD in corporate and civic communities. Many people with IDD have limited opportunities for social interactions after they leave school. This program helps to create an inclusive and diverse community for all.
e-Buddies: Provides a safe online place to develop one-to-one friendships in a technology-driven world. It is a way to help people to become more comfortable using technology to communicate with friends. It also advances computer literacy skills and better equips participants for future online socializing.
Best Buddies® has made and will continue to make an important difference. The organization is active in each of the 50 United States and operates accredited international programs in over 50 countries through private funding — particularly to those communities that are often marginalized or have difficulties accessing care.
Click here to watch a video about the work Best Buddies® is doing.
To learn more about Best Buddies® visit: https://bestbuddies.org/