For the third day of #29DaysofAwareness, I would like to share a little bit about what we do at Best Buddies.
Best Buddies Philippines is about three years old here in the Philippines. I first learned about Best Buddies from my friend Anj Onrubia. Anj contacted me here on the blog when I first started writing. She, too, had a blog about her parenting experiences with her son Zo. Zo has autism and just celebrated his 13th birthday. I am so grateful for Anj and her desire to make the world a better place for Zo. It is because of her drive, commitment, and dedication that we have Best Buddies here, in the Philippines.
I don’t think I could stress it more.
As a parent of a child with special needs, I looked for a community. I looked for the connection with other parents who understood my situation. I wanted understanding, compassion, and empathy. I think no matter what you’re going through in life, it’s always a little easier when you have a friend. This is why when Gelli was born I scoured the internet and joined DSAPI. I truly believe that no matter what the challenges are that we may be handed in life, the load can always be made lighter by a friend.
Sometimes, we just need a friend to listen. Sometimes, we just need a friend to hang out and be ourselves with. Sometimes we need a friend because we need a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes, we just need a friend to accept us as we are, without and expectations or judgement. Many times we just need a friend with whom we can celebrate the joys and triumphs of life…someone who we can celebrate with and laugh.
This is why Best Buddies is so important.
Studies have shown that as a child with special needs grows older, his circle of friends becomes smaller and smaller.
Throughout my children’s lives, I have nurtured the friendships that I could see were healthy. I would schedule playdates when they were smaller. Of course, as my children have grown, I have guided them in friendships that I knew were good for them, but now-they are the ones who choose whom they spend time with. They know the friends that make them feel good, and I encourage these relationships, because I know how much my friends mean to me.
Anthony Kennedy Shriver had a vision almost 27 years ago. He knew that as children with special needs grow into adulthood their friendships may dwindle, leaving a void in their lives.
As human beings, we all look for some kind of connection. That’s a fact.
So he started Best Buddies on the Georgetown Campus.
The idea is simple.
Best Buddies furthers INCLUSION through one to one friendships. While we have 8 different programs with many different partners furthering this cause in more than 50 countries worldwide, what I would like to tell you about is simple.
Today, I want to share what we do in Best Buddies Philippines.
WE BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER.WE BOWL. WE DO YOGA. WE VISIT MUSEUMS. WE PLAY BINGO WE COMPETE IN FRIENDLY GAMES. WE ZUMBA! WE PARTY LIKE ROCKSTARS. WE KARAOKE. WE EAT. WE WATCH MOVIES. WE SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER. Right now, Best Buddies (and inclusion) is still in its infancy here in the Philippines. We are growing strong.
We have chapters in:
- private schools
- a public school
- a college
We have an active Citizens Group who get together regularly for wholesome events planned by the buddies themselves.
We have adults with autism working and leading productive lives through our partnership with Unilab Foundation.
If you would like to know more about Best Buddies Philippines, check out our Facebook page, or email us at email@example.com.
Come and hang out with us. Make a friend. Be a FRIEND. Be a BUDDY. Not a bully.
Peter A. Ressa says
Great work Michelle! I know under your leadership chapter participation and chapter numbers will grow fast in BB Philippines!