Best Buddies and Special Olympics work together for inclusion

B. deCastro, Blueprint editor

The Best Buddies and Special Olympics programs have become more involved at BCHS in the past year. Both programs work to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

With inclusion at its core, Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). It seeks to end the isolation of these people with IDD by giving them opportunities to secure a job, to live independently, to form meaningful friendships and to improve speaking and social skills.

Best Buddies has four pillars: one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living. In Indiana alone, Best Buddies has used these pillars to impact around 66,280 people with over 6,600 participants.

One of the 106 total chapter schools in Indiana is at BCHS. Senior Joslyn Wims is the chapter president and has numerous responsibilities. Some of them include attending events hosted by Best Buddies Indiana, carrying out fundraiser plans and organizing upcoming events. 

“Our goal as a chapter is to raise money for Best Buddies Indiana,” Wims said. “Sometimes as chapter members it’s hard to see the impact we actually make, but every dollar we make goes towards supporting people with disabilities. That is why it is important to stay active.”

Another organization related to Best Buddies is Special Olympics. Special Olympics Indiana strives to “unleash the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports.” Indiana is just one nonprofit organization that is part of this global movement to end discrimmination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities.

Natalie Donaldson
Best Buddies and Special Olympics worked together to host the first Unified Champions basketball game at BCHS.

At its core, Special Olympics views the power of sports as “a catalyst for social change.” With over 17,000 athletes and unified partners, Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round athletic training and competition in 20 Olympic sports. Because of donations and over 10,000 coaches and volunteers, there is no cost to play.

Through IHSAA, Senior Edreece Redmond coordinates with the Washington Township Special Olympics team in order to join forces during Champions Together Sporting Competition. 

Last school year, BCHS won the banner for raising $1,500. Behind the scenes of obtaining the banner, Redmond said that it was a four-step process. “First, I had to create a committee of people who were interested in helping; then, we had to hold a school-wide event. After that, we had to have a unified event, which is a sporting event with special needs kids along with BCHS students. Finally, we needed to raise $1,500 for Special Olympics,” said Redmond.

In order to further this movement of inclusion, Best Buddies and Special Olympics have been working together closely at BCHS through Wims and Redmond. “Best Buddies and Special Olympics are connected because they both strive to work with people with intellectual disabilities, rather than working for them. Both of these organizations provide countless opportunities for people with IDD to reach their fullest potential,” Wims said.

Although Redmond and Wims have accomplished a lot for these organizations, they are still looking for more school involvement. Redmond said, “Being a part of Special Olympics is something that has changed my life and has put a lot of things into perspective for me. I believe that it will have that same effect on others.”

Some ways BCHS can get involved are coming up in the following months. On February 18, there will be another halftime fundraiser during the boys basketball game versus Cathedral. For one dollar, students have one shot to shoot a three-pointer to win a two-liter soda. All donations will go towards Special Olympics. 

Seniors Joslyn Wims and Paige Zehner participate in the annual Best Buddies Friendship Walk. As chapter president, Wims works and coordinates many Best Buddies events at BCHS.

In addition, the Best Buddies Friendship Walk will take place April 19 starting at 10:45 a.m. “The spring semester is when the chapter switches gears to focus on the Friendship Walk. This semester we will raise money for the event in which all Best Buddies Chapters within the region gather to celebrate the cause and unite together,” Wims said.

“Best Buddies has opened my eyes to the limits that society places on people. With a little love and compassion, we will all be able to reach our fullest potential, and that is what life is truly about,” Wims said.