Student Group Spotlight: Best Buddies UMN

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This international organization has a chapter on our very own campus that meets throughout the school year to fight for inclusivity and have fun while doing it. The group was established in 2016 and since then has developed a close relationship with Fraser, a local independent living community for people disabilities. I contacted Best Buddies UMN’s  president and vice president, Taylor and Nicole, and they provided me with a little more information on what they do:

Q: What is your best memory while being a part of this group?

A: Overall, we love getting to know the residents at Fraser. They’re all so welcoming, kind, and fun to be around. One of my favorite memories is playing bean bags outside on a nice day with the residents. The winners received prizes and everyone cheered each other on.

Q: What is your group’s goal?

A: Our goal is to successfully integrate people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into schools, workplaces and communities, so that they’re treated equally and can live a normal life. Once this happens, our organization’s efforts and services will be unnecessary.

Q: How does this group contribute to the community on campus?

A: We provide a welcoming community for people who are passionate about working with special needs. Also, we encourage our members to partner with a buddy who they can participate in their own activities with (movies, yoga, walks, etc.) and make long-lasting friendships.

Q: How does one get involved with your organization?

A: In order to join Best Buddies, one must go through an hour training session with Fraser that we offer at the beginning of each semester. Once this training is completed, we offer one or two parties per month with residents at Fraser that you can sign up for. It’s a great organization to join for those who have busy schedules because it’s extremely flexible and a low commitment level!

If you’re interested in Special Olympics, Parents Helping Parents, or any other special needs organizations, Best Buddies is the club for you! We’re passionate about creating valuable relationships with those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and assisting them with employment and leadership development. Best Buddies started at UMN only two years ago, so we’re still working hard, learning and growing.

Currently, we plan parties for our partner organization, Fraser, who’s a leader in autism services and other special needs. These parties occur once or twice a month and involve activities like baking cookies, watching movies, playing outdoor games or playing board games. As a member, you can be as committed as you’d like, because we offer a very flexible schedule. Also, our president and vice president will be graduating in May of 2018, so we are looking for two passionate individuals to take their place for the fall semester of this year. You may reach out to Taylor Gaudion ([email protected]) or Nicole Gram ([email protected]) for details or if you have any questions!

A special thank you to Taylor Gaudion and Nicole Gram, leaders of Best Buddies, who talked with me about this amazing student group.