Everyone Needs A Buddy

Everyone Needs A Buddy

Everyone Needs A Buddy, Support Best Buddies Today

by Steve Gamel

 

Guyer High School senior Rylie McNabney has always wanted to be a part of a cause bigger than herself. She has that with the Guyer chapter of the Best Buddies Club, but she and her classmates need help getting more people involved.

As the 2018-19 school year was starting up last month, McNabney, this year’s Best Buddies president, was in the middle of a massive recruiting campaign to spur excitement for the club, which takes students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and pairs them with those who don’t have a disability to build friendships and eradicate social isolation.

The club has around 30 members, including the students with special needs. But obviously, there’s room for more. “This is a really fun group that changes a lot of people’s lives; I know my life certainly has changed because of it,” said McNabney, who has been a part of the club since she was a freshman. “Our goal is to try and get new members so everyone can have a friend. But a lot of people don’t understand what Best Buddies is yet.”

Guyer’s club is actually part of something much bigger. Best Buddies International is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Founded in 1989, Best Buddies has nearly 2,500 chapters worldwide that impact the lives of more than 1.2 million people with and without IDD.

Their mission includes everything from creating one-to-one friendships and integrated employment opportunities at companies all across the world to leadership development.

Because McNabney is this year’s Guyer club president, she was invited to the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference in Bloomington, Indiana. It was there that she learned innovative new ideas from global leaders in the disability rights movement as well as taking part in compelling and empowering leadership sessions. She was excited to bring all that knowledge back to share with this year’s movement.

“We learned how to start your own chapter, what to do, how to make everyone feel welcome, and how to handle certain situations,” McNabney said. “I think that’s important because not everyone understands what to do; it’s all about making everyone feel as comfortable as possible and developing real friendships.”

She added, “My cousin has autism, so I’ve always had that in my life. It’s something I’ve always wanted to be a part of.” While the students at Guyer’s Best Buddies program are intent on growing their own fan base, McNabney would love to see the program expand into the halls of other schools throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. “It takes a lot to start a chapter, but it would be amazing [to see this at other schools, too].”

For more information visit their Facebook page @guyerhsbestbuddies


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