The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Best Buddies program makes comeback

An international friendship program has returned to SMU. “Best Buddies,” a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, is back on the campus.

Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies began as a one-chapter program with the goal of helping individuals with intellectual disabilities learn adaptive skills so they could re-enter working society. Since the organization began more than 1,300 college, high school, middle school and elementary school programs have been started on six continents.

Last year, the group dissolved after the president transferred from SMU after the fall semester.

Current best buddies President Jennifer Brodsky became interested in restarting the group after hearing an announcement about it in a psychology class. Without previous knowledge or involvement in the group she was selected as president by the Best Buddies Program Manager.

“I really had no idea what I was getting myself into,” Brodsky said.

After attending a convention at Indiana University in July, Brodsky learned how the Best Buddies program influenced the lives of both the mentor and the buddy.

When the fall semester began, the Best Buddies program had no budget, officers or members. Brodsky began by selecting two officers for the organization. Best Buddies started growing after the few members set up a table outside Hughes-Trigg and began recruiting students.

Each member or college buddy is matched with a resident of one of three local group homes.

The buddies are those defined as having intellectually abilities based on three criteria: an IQ of below 70-75, limitations in two or more adaptive skills areas, and an existing condition since birth or childhood, the most common of which is Down syndrome.

Because individuals with intellectual disabilities are often isolated from society, Best Buddies aims to integrate the buddies into a social environment through friendship with non-disabled peers.

The college buddies exchange weekly phone calls and meetings each month with their buddy. At the end of the month the whole group gets together for an activity. The October activity was “Haunted Halloween Happening.” The buddies decorated pumpkins and spent time with their college buddies.

“This is something they look forward to every month,” said Best Buddies officer Melissa Follett.

Monthly activities along with friendships with people without intellectual disabilities help the buddies build their confidence and self-esteem, but with no money in the budget, expansion plans have been put on hold.

Activities for Best Buddies, including the Best Buddies International Convention, are all out of pocket expenses for Brodsky.

“Our main goal right now is to build the funding,” she said.

Through membership dues and donations, she hopes the program will soon be able to financially function on its own.

On Nov. 4, Best Buddies will be hosting its monthly event, a Hollywood dance in Hughes-Trigg. Members from Best Buddies organizations from all Dallas high schools and colleges will attend.

Brodsky expects the dance to be a memorable event.

“The dance is the biggest activity we host this year – we expect over 200 people to attend,” she said.

Despite financing Brodsky believes the rebuilding of the organization has been a success.

“I didn’t choose Best Buddies, it chose me. When I see how happy the monthly activities make the buddies, it makes me happy that I can help,” Brodsky said.

For more information on Best Buddies contact Jennifer Brodsky at [email protected].

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