Best Buddies fosters meaningful friendships
Among the 1200 students that make up the high school, making new friends can often seem difficult. One club hopes to help.
In a high school environment where social interactions can be daunting, the Best Buddies Club creates fun experiences and valuable friendships for disabled and abled students alike.
Outside of the high school, Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that works to create social opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization has been making waves all throughout the country since 1989, establishing their programs in hundreds of schools and colleges. However, on the list of schools, the high school was nowhere to be found.
Senior Natalie Scher and junior Ari Lazowski recognized this absence and decided to take matters into their own hands. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of the Best Buddies club, a community where student volunteers, referred to as “peer buddies”, could befriend and spend time with “buddies.” Now, the club meets every X-Block in Room 146.
Scher formed this club in the hope of providing disabled students with a better opportunity for social inclusion, an idea that had not been given attention amongst the high school’s clubs.
“I haven’t noticed anything similar to Best Buddies being done at BHS to focus on including students with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Scher said. “I’ve seen what the damage of being socially isolated can do to a person with disabilities, and I wanted to make that change at BHS.”
While the club offers great experiences for the buddies themselves, the peer buddies also gain experiences from volunteering. Special Education teacher Katelyn Parisi, one of the advisers of Best Buddies, believes that it is the friendships which truly make the club great for everyone involved.
“Best Buddies provides the opportunity to know new people, with or without disabilities, and better understand the community of Brookline,” Parisi said. “It allows you to gain a solid group of people who you hopefully want to hang out with and you can go try new opportunities with together.”
Junior Aaron Fleishman supports this idea, as he became a member of the club with the goal of meeting and befriending new people.
“I was in special olympics, which is another program where you volunteer with special needs kids to play basketball,” Fleishman said. “I thought would be a cool way to get involved in the school and meet other students.”
When the buddies and peer buddies spend time with one another, they typically do a variety of entertaining activities. This includes collaborative drawing, intense rounds of Uno, games in the gym and other small but significantly bonding activities. Best Buddies meets at X-Block in Room 142 and the club also hopes to participate in bigger endeavours in the future, such as going to see a Celtics game together.
Perhaps the most exciting highlight of this young club thus far has been the Best Buddies Friendship Walk. Best Buddies programs from all around Massachusetts came together to participate in an eventful five kilometer walk and enjoy the general merriment of Thanksgiving.
“It was really fun to see the communities come together to celebrate what Best Buddies is about, which is friendship,” Parisi said.
Despite the club’s recent formation, Scher is hopeful that Best Buddies will develop into a flourishing community of friends.
“We want everyone to join Best Buddies!” Scher said. “We’re open to people at any time during the year who want to be part of it. It is a commitment, but it’s fun; it both benefits the buddy and the peer buddy. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to have a fun time with friends.”