Club Spotlight: Best Buddies Club
The Best Buddies Club, led by Lexi Schwartz (‘24) and Leah Paley (‘25), works to make one-to-one friendships between students with and without disabilities. An international nonprofit organization, Best Buddies is designed to create new opportunities and friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Schwartz explained that the organization’s EHS club strives “to create bonds and provide a beneficial social outlook for the ICAP class.” With this in mind, Best Buddies holds fundraisers, organizes fun activities, and works to raise awareness for people with disabilities, starting right here with Edgemont’s ICAP program.
The Best Buddies Club is an important and valuable organization that helps to promote understanding, acceptance, and inclusivity within the school community. By participating in fun activities, events, and fundraisers, club members have the chance to learn about and appreciate the unique strengths and abilities of their peers with IDD.
At the same time, the program helps people with IDD “improve their public speaking, self-advocacy, and communication skills” while fostering the creation of significant relationships with other students. Best Buddies teaches individuals how to interact with people in the IDD community, and together, students collaborate to brainstorm fun, hands-on games and projects that will be beneficial for both parties.
The club typically meets once a month to go over their plans for the month, and then usually hosts an event or fundraiser monthly, as well. The club members also arrange activities with the ICAP students. Recently, the club held a contest alongside students in the ICAP program to see which team could create the longest paper chain. The winner of this contest earned a pizza party. The next event the club is holding involves designing and creating cards and a variety of beautiful art to share with White Plains Hospital.
Schwartz says that “not only are these events and relationships beneficial for the ICAP class, but also for others who find joy in helping people and want to make a change in the lives of those with disabilities.” The club, which just started earlier this school year, is perfect for people looking to gain a new perspective on friendship-making and the building of social skills.
Club member Penelope Kraus (‘25) describes being in Best Buddies as a “great experience,” as she is afforded the chance to work with kids in the ICAP program at the elementary level. Kraus says that “having the opportunity to continue to do so is really exciting.” She expressed that many students at EHS don’t know what ICAP is, but through this club, it is possible to learn more about the program and “get to know our peers in the ICAP classroom.”
Another member of the club recognized the great addition Best Buddies has been to Edgemont. The small activities, such as the paper chain contest, “are intended to add more variety to the ICAP students’ daily routine, as well as make them feel like they are more a part of the Edgemont community.”
Paley notes that running the club this year “has been a really fun and special experience,” and has allowed her to make “connections with many people in all different grades.” One of her goals for Best Buddies this year is to “raise the awareness of our club since it is new and get more members.” She says that “members in this club could do many things based on what they want to and feel comfortable doing,” including simply being a "buddy” to someone with IDD or just attending meetings, supporting friends, or participating in their fun activities.
The Best Buddies Club is open to students in grades seven through twelve. Meetings occur once a month after school in Ms. Borrelli’s room, D8. The next meeting date will be the first Wednesday of February, so if you’re interested in joining or even if you just want to get more information about the club, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or join the club’s Google Classroom page with the code UTVQACC to get involved!