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Best Buddies: Everlasting Relationships and Rewarding Experiences

Best Buddies: Everlasting Relationships and Rewarding Experiences
Best Buddies International

Students from Loyola University Maryland had the opportunity to accompany eight Best Buddies members to the Port Authority Children’s Museum. These children’s ages ranged from eleven to sixteen and got to experience hands-on activities like using building blocks to create skyscrapers and climbing different obstacle courses around the museum.  

Best Buddies is an international, nonprofit program and the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the isolation associated with people with both intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their goal is to create a more inclusive environment and advocate for people with these disabilities. President of Best Buddies Mia Aglieco ‘24, shares how the club’s focus on the spirit of inclusion made possible through the power of friendship has impacted her. 

“Being the president of Best Buddies at Loyola has pushed me to grow in my leadership skills by staying organized in running our programs, connecting with other student leaders and professional staff from the university, and working closely with the board to execute regular on-campus meetings and events,” Aglieco said.

The Best Buddies program involves students spending time with program participants while taking children to visit places in and around the Baltimore area. Highlights of the club this semester include the Port Discovery Children’s Museum, classroom support, and helping the participants with fall-themed crafts. Aglieco reflected on her favorite trip taken with Best Buddies this semester. 

“My favorite service trip was when we went to Michael’s with students from Lois T. Murray Elementary School. We were able to learn about the students and see their personalities in what they wanted to buy, help to guide them about staying on budget, and give them the independence to be excited about shopping,” Aglieco said.

There is a wide range of activities this club sponsors and attends. Bella Parson, a staff member of the Best Buddies Executive Board, briefly shared her involvement with the club and provided a different perspective on some of the other activities this club highlights. 

“I got involved with Best Buddies only this year, but there are many places we go as a part of this program. The classroom support is on Tuesdays when we go to the local elementary school and read to the children. There are also Halloween celebrations where the kids get all dressed up in costumes, and it was just cool to be a part of all of that,” Parson said. 

Best Buddies also has an online opportunity where club members are paired with someone from the league. This is done over Zoom. During this time, conversations are shared about hobbies and day-to-day activities in the lives of people who are a part of the Best Buddies group. Parson shared why she felt the online option offered as much as the in-person one.  

“This forms a relationship between Best Buddies and the league so we can advocate for them for more opportunities in the future. The fact that it’s online does not take away from the experiences and knowledge gained,” Parson said. 

Best Buddies usually meets once a month, typically on Mondays. If you are interested in joining, information is posted on their social media platforms, @LUMbestbuddies, as well as in emails sent by members of the board. Reminders for meetings are sent via email and all are welcomed and encouraged to attend.  

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