Best Buddies facilitates relationships between students and the special needs community

For those looking to join a fun and rewarding organization that not only provides community outreach, but also builds valuable, longlastingfriendships, Best Buddies may be the perfect match.
Best Buddies is a national organization that allows students to connect with those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community.
“The main goal that we have in Best Buddies, especially in this chapter, is just friendships with the special needs communities,” Best Buddies UMHB Chapter President Idaly Ramirez, a junior education major, said.
“They truly are such a beautiful community; they are so powerful. We try to get young adults with special needs to feel more comfortable in our environment. We want to introduce them to our world and allow them to introduce us to theirs.
Ramirez says that along with building meaningful friendships, community service is a huge part of the organization.
“We go down to the Ark in Temple, which is a whole gym for special needs individuals,” she said. “They host special Olympics, which has a bunch of tournaments that we go and cheer on and help out in. We are able to volunteer with cleaning and keeping score and things like that. We also do more personal activities with our buddies, such as movie or game night, or go skating and things like that.”
While Best Buddies is a small organization here at UMHB, its benefits have greatly impacted both students and the special needs community.
“We have 16 members currently, and two buddies,” Ramirez said. “We are also about to add a third buddy. Currently, we are split into two groups of three or four people, and each group is paired with one of the buddies.”
“Right now, I believe we are the only organization that really focuses on outreach to those in the special needs community. Our university does have an interdisciplinary studies degree, so having an organization like this available allows the students that are studying that to gain experience.”
One benefit of Best Buddies that is different than any other student organization on campus is its flexibility.
Since there are not many regular meetings, it is a perfect organization for those who have busy schedules.
“Our organization is different in that our meetings are more on a personal basis, so it is flexible to your schedule,” Ramirez said. “The buddy groups will meet whenever everyone is available. As an organization, we will meet at least once a month for more big events, such as movie night and things like that.”
While Best Buddies gives students the opportunity to experience many things, there are a few things in particular that Ramirez believes makes the biggest impact on members.
“People will definitely gain passion for those with special needs through joining our organization,” she said. “They also will gain more knowledge and experience about how to handle situations and interactions and things like that. We had one of our members change her major from business to interdisciplinary studies because she enjoyed interacting with the special needs community so much.”
Ramirez, who has been a part of Best Buddies for three years now, has witnessed many friendships built and many memories made.
“Getting to experience being in a group with both college students and special needs adults and getting to see them interact and become friends is my favorite part,” she said. “When we are all together, we are all the same.”
If you are interested in joining Best Buddies, there are a couple of quick and easy ways to do so.
“Best Buddies is available for everyone to join, Ramirez said. “It’s a super easy process: just go on to Best Buddies online ( and apply for a membership application.You will complete a survey that will pair you up with a buddy that shares your interests. You can also email me at to let me know you are interested and I can help you sign up.”

Author: Geri Wissink

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