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Benefits to Westfield Best Buddies

Emma Kate Greer

Guest Writer

November 8, 2022

Inclusive and inviting; Enjoying a CORE meeting, freshmen Adriana, Lauren, Savannah, Alex, and Brady (from left to right) stand together for a photo to show their love for each other and the club.

Best Buddies is an inclusive, non-profit, and international club at the high school that prioritizes love and friendships between students with and without intellectual disabilities.

Best Buddies is led by select student officers and faculty advisers to include students and give everyone a safe place to be themselves and grow as individuals.

Importance of Best Buddies:

Best Buddies shines a light on the importance of friendships between people with and without disabilities. Faculty adviser, Mrs. Jennifer Yoder feels strongly that high school is a tough time for anyone, and having a club to focus on the importance of friendship helps all students.

“The organization is designed to bring high school students together with individuals with developmental disabilities to form friendships and relationships,” Mrs. Yoder said when asked how she interpreted the definition of Best Buddies.

Best Buddies also allows every student an opportunity to express their true self. Mrs. Yoder also loves getting to see the bonds made between students and seeing people get to be their truest selves while being treated properly with love and kindness.

“This club encourages people to spend time together, get to know each other on a real level, and not pay attention to what people look like or labels, but really get to know each other,” Mrs. Yoder said.

In addition to spending time together, Club President and senior Jordyn Church understands that having a loving environment is crucial for people to feel like they have a place to belong.

“Having a place that is open and inclusive for anybody and everybody to feel like they are welcomed to be there, and that they are appreciated [is what Best Buddies means to her],” Church said.

Acceptance and friendship:

Acceptance is one of the core values of Best Buddies. Accepting everyone, no matter their differences, and understanding everybody is equal and deserves the same opportunities, helps someone live a happier and more inclusive life.

“Best Buddies is accepting. I love the club and the people I’ve met through it,” club member and tenth grader Majia Pastran said. Wanting to be a part of Best Buddies to spread the message of acceptance is something that is important to her. She loves what the club stands for, and that is why she keeps coming back.

Learning about what makes people unique is an important part of acceptance. Taking the time to listen to people, and learn about them, makes them feel loved. Having an environment where people listen and you can feel heard helps one feel safer when they might not find that anywhere else.

“When buddies are actually there to listen and want to hear what I have to say, that is when I feel the most appreciated,” Church said.

Jordyn Church believes that everyone should feel listened to, and she helps to create that environment within the club, and also prioritizes accepting everyone, no matter their disability, and making sure they know they are loved.

“Making sure everybody, whether you have a disability or not, feels like they have a purpose and having a friend in their life,” Church said. This relates to making sure people feel heard, and ultimately wanting to create the safest environment for students.

Why Best Buddies?:

Everyone joins extracurricular activities for different reasons, but within that organization, all members share the same core values. When asked what words describe the club, officers said Best Buddies was understanding, inviting, cheerful, sociable, friendly, and a community.

“[Best Buddies is] an opportunity to see students at their best,” Mrs. Yoder said. “The students who are involved in Best Buddies care about people, and not what they look like or how they behave or their disabilities, and I think that is a beautiful thing.”

Maija Pastran became involved with the club because she saw it being advertised and loved what the club stands for. Her reasoning for joining may be different than someone else’s, but she feels the same values as any other member.

“I think the most impactful thing about Best Buddies is seeing how everyone is treated. I love how everyone loves one another regardless of how different we all can be,” Pastran said.

Being able to express and advocate for one’s own beliefs through a club that stands for the same things, helps people develop stronger values and opinions within their lives.

“Getting to make new friends every day, and I love to put a smile on people's faces and show them that I care,” Church responded when asked why she got involved in Best Buddies. “I love to listen to people talk, and getting to know all these different people’s stories [and what makes them who they are today].”

Jordyn continues to advocate for people's voices to be heard and involves people by listening and reaching out when they need someone to talk to. Taking the time to find what matters most to you, and then using that to find a safe space can be extremely beneficial to someone's life.

More than a club:

Best Buddies is more than just a school-organized club. On top of the monthly meetings and parties, students get together with their buddies and friends outside of school. Hanging out after school and on the weekends, strengthens bonds and helps further develop the understanding of why people choose Best Buddies.

Creating a fun environment in school, allows people to carry these friendships and values into their everyday lives. When asked what is most enjoyable about the club Maija shared what she loved most.

“I truly love seeing all of our buddies and club members outside of school and getting to catch up,” Pastran said.

Best Buddies gives people the idea that no matter the time or the day, if they need something or someone to talk to, they can reach out to any of their friends from the club, and they will be listened to. Knowing that you have someone who will help you outside of school, without judgment, gives people a sense of peace.

“What is most beautiful about the club is when I see kids reaching out to their friendships and the community we’ve formed in Best Buddies,” Mrs. Yoder said when asked what was most impactful to her, about Best buddies. “That they get together and do things on their own time because they truly have formed friendships.”

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