Clubs: Best Buddies bridges the gap between UBC and persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities

A chapter of the international organization, Best Buddies UBC has been around for quite a while now. The biggest organization in the world for the cause, Best Buddies helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) to form meaningful friendships, secure jobs, improve self-advocacy and feel valued by the society they live in.

The Ubyssey sat down with a student buddy and one of the co- presidents, Shauntel Batchelor, and this is what she had to say.

What’s the organization about? How did it all start?

Best Buddies was started because the founders felt that there wasn’t a huge diverse community for people with IDDs outside of their own circle. Working by the same guidelines and for the same mission, we seek to enable them to form significant friendships, interact with lots of different people and just provide a place where they feel loved and appreciated. Diversity within friendships is important to us.

Who can volunteer? How does the recruitment process work?

Anyone! Really! We start with Clubs day, where interested people are invited to attend an info session. There we provide them with a lot more information about what we do, our programs and goals. Interested volunteers would need to fill out an online application form and submit a criminal record check. Following that, they come in for an interview session and they’re good to go. We also have a few executive positions open for those who want to get involved with the club, but not as a student buddy.

What kind of activities do you do with your buddies?

Anything of your choosing, really. We go on walks, go to movies with them, go shopping or anything else that would interest them. My buddy likes to walk, so we do a lot of that. We try and match pairs up who have commonalities and shared interests, so the friendship isn’t forced. My buddy, like me, loves the Discovery Channel, so we talk a lot about recent cool documentaries we’ve seen. We also set up a few social and fundraising events through the year, where all the students and buddies get together. The first one coming up is a Halloween ice breaker event — the first platform where all the students meet their buddies for the first time and get to know each other.

What are your visions for the club in the upcoming year?

We hope to really increase awareness about our club and our cause. So far, I feel like not a lot of students know about us. We also hope to collaborate with some other clubs to execute our events this year. We are really excited for the March fundraiser. It’s called “Hooping It Up” and it’s a basketball fundraiser in collaboration with the UBC Basketball team.

Who do you think benefits from Best Buddies?

I would say everyone! As student buddies, we definitely learn so much, get to meet these interesting people and form really diverse friendships. I’ve been doing this for six years now, having started in high school. It has definitely enriched my life, made me a much nicer and more patient human being. The people we work with are very diverse in their functioning levels, but regardless, they benefit from the program as well.

What would you say is special about Best Buddies?

I think it’s that feeling you get when you see the look of pure unadulterated joy and happiness on a buddy’s face — the look that they belong and are loved. That makes it worth the effort and time [and] makes this club really special.

Three quick words to describe Best Buddies.

Diverse, Cathartic, Fun.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Our info session is happening Tuesday, somewhere in the nest. Exact location [is to be announced]. We can provide a lot more information then and you will have an opportunity to sign up as well.

Shauntel Batchelor can be contacted on Facebook for more information.