[News] Best Buddies launch at International School Bangkok

“A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.“

                                                                                                          ― Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh understands the importance of friendship. Everyone needs a friend,  and that is why a new club was formed in the International School Bangkok (ISB) middle school this year. ISB Best Buddies started in October. It’s mission: to spread awareness of students with special needs, advocate for their rights, and to form everlasting friendships between students with needs and those without.

Best Buddies International was originally started by Anthony K. Shriver in 1989 to foster one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Their website, www.bestbuddies.org boasts that “Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with IDD.” International chapters of Best Buddies have popped up around the world as more and more people connect to the importance of such an organization.

ISB Best Buddies have worked to accomplish many things this year. The first is to spread awareness. The group has started a campaign to end the “R-word” (retarded) when used to describe silly or goofy actions by others. This word is used by many and it is offensive to people who have intellectual disabilities and their families. The culminating event for this campaign will be in late March at a middle school assembly. ISB Middle School students will be encouraged to take a pledge to end the “R-word” and signify that pledge by wearing a wrist-band. The next major project is to spread the word about Autism Awareness month, which is coming up in April.

The Best Buddies group has a major role in opening up the new Intensive Needs classroom at ISB, opening in August of 2017. They helped put together work tasks, cut out piles of visuals, and created sensory calming bottles for the new students. There is much more work to be done and the buddies are up for the task.

Many of our Best Buddies also helped with the Special Olympics event that was held here in November. Several others participated in the ServICE convention and three of our members presented about our club in front of an audience of over 300 students and teachers.

Next school year, Best Buddies will open up to the entire school. We will have six new students in our intensive needs program, and our current students are excited to interact and forge new friendships with the incredible students coming our way. Hannah Merritt, one of our 7th grade Buddies exclaims, “I can’t wait to meet these kids!”

Neither can the rest of us.

Article Contributed by Lori Boll

Initially Published in “Mission.” Best Buddies International. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.

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