Article by Amelia Kunko <email@example.com>
Introducing Best Buddies, a club that aims to promote friendship and community between those with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Co-presidents Sophie Louis ’24 and Madison Smith ’25 are amplifying the club’s presence on campus, from holding monthly meetings to attending a Best Buddies conference at Indiana University Bloomington this past summer.
For members of the club, being involved in Best Buddies has been a way to both foster friendships and explore other interests like working with the disability community. “I became involved with Best Buddies because of my interest in pursuing a career in special education,” says Tatiana Kent ’24. “I wanted to make new friends on campus who were also passionate about forming close knit supportive communities on campus.”
One of the aims of Best Buddies is to bridge the gap between those with disabilities and those without. “A lot of neurotypical people unfortunately still view intellectually/disabled adults as not being fully autonomous human beings with passions, interests, hopes, and dreams,” says Kent. “Our goal is not to view our buddies as ‘less than’ but to form friendships — and friends are on equal footing with one another.” Ultimately, the goal of the Best Buddies club members is to create inclusivity on campus and in relationships. “We want to make sure that the disability community, one of the most isolated populations, is not only seen but welcomed by Ursinus students,” says Hayley Kane ’25. “From these friendships, we learn so much about what it’s like to live in the disability community while making great memories.”
Louis and Smith had the chance to connect with other members of the organization at a Best Buddies conference, held at Indiana University Bloomington. The event was rewarding and educational for the co-presidents. “The Best Buddies conference was such an amazing experience,” says Louis. “I met so many like-minded, passionate, kind people who strive to make a difference and promote inclusion. It was really inspiring, eye-opening, and gave us so many ideas for the upcoming year.” The conference gave both Louis and Smith the opportunity to learn about disability from new perspectives. “The Best Buddies conference was one of the most heartwarming and inspiring experiences that I have ever had,” says Smith. “We saw performances from multiple people, heard from people with different disabilities, and learned about our greater impact in the whole world.” All in all, the Best Buddies conference fostered a welcoming space for the organization’s members to make connections and learn how to create inclusive spaces for both disabled and non disabled people. “The whole weekend we were in an environment with people who were so openly kind and welcoming, and I think this showed us the bigger picture of the more inclusive world we are creating through Best Buddies,” Smith says.
Any students who are interested in joining are welcome to contact the Best Buddies club on campus for more information. “Students are able to get involved in Best Buddies by reaching out to any exec board member or a general member,” says Francis Runquist ’25. “Don’t think of this club as another thing on your schedule, but
is anas an opportunity to connect with other people in our community!” Best Buddies will also be having a shirt fundraiser soon, so keep your eyes open for updates on that.
If you have any questions about Best Buddies or want to learn more about getting involved, reach out to Sophie Louis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Madison Smith at email@example.com. Make sure to stay up to date with Best Buddies at their Instagram, @bestbuddiesuc!