One of Palo Verde’s clubs is part of an International nonprofit 501 organization that is dedicated to creating opportunities for friendships, leadership development and is focused on comprehensive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
In 1987, Anthony Kennedy Shriver founded the original Best Buddies Chapter at Georgetown University. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was signed into law by President George Bush. The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability.
In the mid-2000s, the club was introduced at Palo Verde High School by Chandler Yamane and Ms. Clary was the co-advisor of the club with Ms. Lewis. “The reason I decided to be a part of this club was to promote inclusion,” said Ms. Lewis, the advisor of the club.
The objective of this club is to give students who are mentally challenged the same treatment and attention which is currently given to minority children through similar groups.
Best Buddies is about people, and the friendships formed with people. It has a direct impact on which you are able to see in the club members.
The chapter president, Lauren Sparks says, “you see them in the hallways, at lunch, and in the mirror, it is one of the few experiences in school that is personal. High school is hard for anyone at times, given the countless changes experienced, and that is why it is so important that everyone has someone to turn to or get help from. I think everyone deserves a good life, and that starts in the social environment in which we are educating people.”
This club builds one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), offering social mentoring while improving the quality of life and level of inclusion for a population that is often isolated and excluded. Best Buddies also focuses on finding work that matches the job seeker’s interests and talents.
As of January 2019, the best buddies organization introduces a living program that people with and without IDD to live together in a vibrant community that is focused on supporting all residents in accomplishing their life goals and dreams.
“One thing that I have seen a change in the students of the club is their happiness and social skills. They became more extrovert. They got to interact with new faces which opened them up more and made them more comfortable and happy”, said Treasurer of Best Buddies, Savanah Vargas.
People with and without IDD form meaningful connections with their peers, gain self-confidence and self-esteem, and share interests, experiences, and activities that many other individuals enjoy.
Overall, best buddies is a great club to join to create friendships with your fellow peers as well as the buddies.