One of the most underrated programs that does more than just raise awareness is Best Buddies. The Best Buddies program teams students up with a student in the special education program. The program’s purpose is to build a connection with the special education students and establish a partnership with them. “This program means a lot to me, it widens my perspective, and I feel like I’m connecting with the other students,” senior Deanna Schaeffer said.
The program we see today was not always such a powerful and well-organized organization. Club President senior Rifa Qadri made it one of the most successful chapters in the state. “When I was moved to Wootton, the chapter was closed due to a lack of participation. I knew I wanted to start the program up again, so I did, and now it is up and running in full swing,” Qadri said.
With all the work Qadri has done, she has turned a defunct group into an organization with over 90 members. “When I was a freshman, I didn’t even know we had a Best Buddies program, and now I have a couple friends that participate, and I think that’s great,” senior Josh Oser.
This is not the only school that holds this program. “The organization has definitely grown around the county. There are now more than 20 schools involved with the Best Buddies program, which is a lot more than it used to be,” Qadri said.
There are many reasons to join this program. “I think one of the most important reasons to join Best Buddies is because you are guaranteed to make a friend. It’s great to be able to talk to someone, and why not join and make friends?” Qadri said.
They hold multiple events throughout the school year. “We have a Special Olympics field day sponsored by the SGA where we invite different Best Buddies from around the county and different organizations and special-ed programs to come and enjoy music, food, games, contests, raffles and a photo booth, which are all in the process of getting approved by Mrs. Boldon,” Qadri said. “We are also planning pledge day during lunch where one can pledge to not say the ‘R’ word and get a piece of bundt cake. Also, since it is Autism awareness month, our bracelets are going to be sold soon,” Qadri said.