By Samantha Cantrell
Throughout the uncertainty of the past year, one lesson that has been taught time and time again is the necessity of community. A new club at Wilson College is providing opportunities for the construction of new connections: Best Buddies International. The organization creates one-to-one friendships between volunteers and individuals with intellectual disabilities, along with providing leadership opportunities, employment development, and inclusive living for those they serve. There are chapters in all 50 states as well as internationally, and starting this year, Wilson College has joined with its own campus chapter.
Best Buddies of Wilson College Founder and Co-President Maddie Walker first heard about Best Buddies before transferring to Wilson from York College of Pennsylvania, where she was involved in various leadership roles in the organization. She knew that she wanted to bring a Best Buddies chapter to Wilson in order to bring about new opportunities for friendships with other students as well as community outreach while staying connected to an organization she had known and loved. With countless memories between herself and her buddy as well as her fellow chapter members, she has learned that Best Buddies creates relationships to last a lifetime, a perspective that has served her well in her time building a chapter from the ground up at Wilson.
With that being said, students do not have to be paired in a one-to-one friendship to be involved in Best Buddies. While being a peer buddy paired with a community member is an option, students can also serve as associate members, who attend meetings when possible but without the commitment of being paired in a one-to-one friendship. While the pandemic has limited options for club activities, there are still many online events that members are able to participate in so that connections between club members and buddies does not have to come to a stop. Interested students can contact co-presidents Maddie Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Janae Watkins (email@example.com) for more information on how to get involved with Best Buddies as the Wilson College chapter takes root.