By Celeste Amron, Elise Bilodeau, Tillie Davies, and Kristy Kocot
The Best Buddies chapter at T.C. Williams allows students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to interact with other students. The club is an international program “dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation” of people with IDD.
Students can either be Buddies, Peer Buddies, or Associate Members. Students with IDD are Buddies and paired up with other students called Peer Buddies. Associate Members are not paired with a buddy but still attend the club meetings and take part in activities.
Club meetings are held every third Wednesday of the month in the Quiet Dining Hall at the King Street Campus. The leadership for the TC Chapter is President Anna Brown, Vice President Lane McCaslin, Treasurer Molly Hayes, Financial Director and Communications Coordinator Chloe Marsh, and Event Coordinator Zoe Price.
Hayes has been in Best Buddies for three years and has had the same buddy each year. “The best thing I’ve learned from my three years in Best Buddies is that there are so many possible friendships that can be made with so many different people,” said Hayes, “each friendship is mutually beneficial and life-changing.”
First year Buddy Katherine Waters is excited for all of this year’s upcoming events. Earlier in the year, the TC Best Buddies Chapter participated in the Best Buddies Walk and it will also participate in the Capital Region Valentine’s Day Dance and Best Buddies Prom later this school year. The Chapter collaborates with other schools in the area such as Gonzaga College High School, Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, and Bishop Ireton High School for other events during the school year, such as holiday parties, dodgeball tournaments, and movie nights.
“I’ve made a lot of new friends, and [reconnected with] old friends,” said second year Buddy Emma Franken. Franken and her Peer Buddy have been friends since middle school.
If you are interested in joining the club, you can still join as an Associate Member to attend activities and help out. “There is a misconception that Associate Members aren’t able to get the same great experience out of the club as Peer Buddies, but that’s not true at all,” said McCaslin.
“For students with intellectual or developmental disabilities, it can be very difficult to make friends outside of the IDD program. Best Buddies gives IDD students the opportunity to interact with new people, and hopefully create friendships that will last throughout their time at TC,” said McCaslin.
“From my years in Best Buddies, I have learned how to be a more inclusive person and I have gained new perspectives on what it means to be a friend,” said Hayes.