Best Buddies builds friendships and makes a difference


Seniors Noelle Hagy, Amara Novotny, Kaylin Fitzgerald, Alex Ciccone, Megan Connell at the Washington Monument during the Friendship Walk 2017.

Devika Raj, Staff Writer

Best Buddies  was Founded at Georgetown University in 1989, Best Buddies has grown from a small group to a worldwide organization. Through the combined efforts of all its members, Best Buddies has positively impacted the lives of over 1.1 million people with and without Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), according to the organization’s website.

The organization is dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for members to make friendships. The Best Buddies club has been active at Chantilly since the 1990s. The club pairs up group members through a peer buddy matching system, which helps identify matches based on interests, needs and time availability. Chantilly’s chapter encourages all of its members to participate in a multitude of events to help students with IDD feel more included.

“The club has a wide range of activities that a member would typically do along with their buddy or as a group of friends. During Halloween, we go trick or treating and have movie nights. These activities give peer buddies an opportunity to have fun and learn new things,” learning disabilities teacher and club sponsor Susan Rorie said. “These activities give the members and participants a positive social and cultural learning experience.”

Participating in the club gives students the opportunity to work with peers with disabilities and provides a unique learning experience for all who take part.

“I learn a lot from my interactions with the club members and buddies, especially patience and inclusiveness,” senior Liam Maison said.

The international program organizes several community and fundraising events across the country, some of which are attended by Chantilly members. For example, the Best Buddies Capital Region Friendship Walk, recently held in Washington, D.C., rose awareness and support for developmental disabilities. Many Chantilly students joined the 5K walk with their buddies and even brought family members. After the walk, participants enjoyed an event filled with food, music, dancing and several other activities to celebrate friendship and inclusiveness.

“My experience at this year’s Friendship Walk was awesome” senior and club

president Amara Novotny said. “It was really cool to go to the city with my friends and to see the National Mall, Washington Monument and Capitol building, while walking to support a great cause.”

There are many walks that happen around the country that provide opportunities to see the Best Buddies mission in action at the local level. They occur in a variety of cities in around 29 states. These walks are important events that help fund Best Buddies across the nation.

The club is starting to plan for one of its biggest events, the Best Buddies Capital Region Prom 2018 in Washington, D.C. In addition, there are several other events being planned such as a Valentine’s Day dance and a winter-themed meeting in December.

The club meets once a month on Mondays after school to discuss upcoming events and give members the opportunity to participate in club activities. Students can join Best Buddies in Room 123 and enjoy activities that will inspire Chargers to continue giving back to their community for years to come.