Best Buddies joins people together as a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to establishing volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships.
The organization also promotes integrated employment and leadership development for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Best Buddies was founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver.
Today, Best Buddies is an international organization that has grown from one chapter into an organization that has more than one-thousand four-hundred chapters at middle school, high school, and college campuses across America and other nations. Best Buddies programs promote participation in every one of the states in America, with accredited international programs on six different continents and additional country programs which are under development. Best Buddies programs are expected to impact the lives of greater than four-hundred thousand people this year alone. The services that Best Buddies volunteers contribute every single year to communities equate to more than seventy-million dollars.
While the growth and advancement of this incredible organization has been tremendous in the short amount of time they have been around, there are areas of America and other regions of the world that lack programs to help persons with intellectual disabilities to become a part of mainstream society. The goals of Best Buddies is to continue expansion on both community and national levels, as well as increasing the breadth of engagement of the global community through their programs. Eighty-nine percent of their revenue goes directly into programs for persons with disabilities; only eleven-percent is spent on fundraising and administration.
People who experience intellectual disabilities who are unable to either get or keep a job find that it is often because of a lack of social skills, rather than an inability to do the work that is required. Best Buddies provides an introduction to socialization opportunities and job coaching, giving them the tools they need to become more independent and included in the community. With the socialization skills and opportunities they need, access to the community increases, benefiting everyone in the community. The many programs that Best Buddies offers include:
Best Buddies Citizens: Best Buddies Citizens matches people with intellectual disabilities in one-to-one friendships with individuals in the corporate and civic communities. Friends and family are the foundation that help human beings become successful. Without love, support, and friends, our lives would be empty - a life people with intellectual disabilities have been forced to live throughout history. Since 1993, volunteers are changing lives by simply sharing their time with a new friend.
Best Buddies Colleges: Best Buddies Colleges pairs people with intellectual disabilities in one-to-one friendships with college students. In the past, individuals with intellectual disabilities have not had the opportunity to have friends outside of their own environment. By becoming a College Buddy, volunteers offer a Peer Buddy the chance to explore a new way of life. College chapters have grown from one single chapter at Georgetown to active chapters on more than 425 campuses worldwide.
Best Buddies High Schools: Since 1993, Best Buddies High Schools has paired students with intellectual disabilities in one-to-one friendships with high school students. By introducing Best Buddies into public and private high schools, participants are crossing the invisible line that too often separates those with disabilities from those without. Today, Best Buddies boasts more than 900 high school chapters worldwide.
Best Buddies Middle Schools: In today's middle schools, students with intellectual disabilities often enter the same building and walk the same hallways as their peers, but they are left out of social activities. Started in 2001, Best Buddies Middle Schools is already active on 145 middle school campuses pairing students with intellectual disabilities in one-to-one friendships.
Best Buddies Jobs: Best Buddies Jobs continues the integration of people with intellectual disabilities into the community through supported employment. The program helps individuals attain and maintain jobs of their own choosing by providing ongoing support and training, enabling people with intellectual disabilities to earn an income, pay taxes, and work in an environment alongside others in the community. Since its inception, Best Buddies Jobs has placed more than 500 individuals in integrated employment positions.
e-Buddies is an e-mail pen pal program for people with an intellectual disability of all ages (10 years old and up) and peer volunteers from across the United States and around the globe. e-Buddies is a fun and safe way to make a new friend in a secure online setting, and is available to anyone who has an e-mail address. e-Buddies can also be a great teaching tool for a special education classroom that can help teach social skills, as well as literacy and computer skills. Joining e-Buddies is quick and easy. Simply visit www.ebuddies.org to read more and to complete the online application.