Best Buddies is an organization at Slippery Rock University that is a global nonprofit which prides itself on creating one to one friendships for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their peers, according to senior recreational therapy major Krisztina Armstrong.
The organization, on a global level, is involved with various institutions, from having chapters in elementary schools, high schools and colleges. Specifically at SRU, Best Buddies works with Rock Life students by pairing them up with a friend, as well as having biweekly socials to try and offer a friendly face to the students.
“I always say it’s just another friendly face on campus because sometimes our Rock Life students are kind of isolated and they live on campus but aren’t always incorporated,” Armstrong said.
Best Buddies previously worked with the Merakey Houses that allowed them to work with adults with intellectual disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic created a variety of barriers that made it difficult to work and keep everyone safe, which eventually led to their contract together ending.
For the “buddies,” who are the students with intellectual disabilities, the organization allows them to have various learning opportunities to help enhance social skills.
“Learning appropriate social behaviors is a big thing we work on,” Armstrong said. “The boundary setting is a big thing sometimes because it can be challenging.
“We love our friends, but we need to have respect for them too.”
For “peer buddies,” which are paired with the buddies, they are able to learn skills that will help them in various areas, many times with their specific majors. This includes communication skills, time management and boundary setting, They are also to get volunteer hours through the organization.
Best Buddies’ biggest event is the “Best Buddies Friendship Walk.” The walk is the largest walk that strives to spread inclusion for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. SRU’s organization, along with other Best Buddies programs around the world, work to raise money for the walk, which will be donated to Best Buddies International.
“The money helps to create new school chapters, build job programs and create even more friendships across the globe,” Armstrong commented.
The Pittsburgh walk will be held on April 24 at Highmark Stadium. More information can be found here.
Best Buddies meets every other Tuesday at 6 p.m. in 102 Vincent Science Center. Events can be found on CORE.