PCHS Best Buddies Club
Best Buddies Club
Pike County High School has started its own Best Buddies Club, an international student-run friendship club which creates buddy pairs between students with and without disabilities. Best Buddies helps to create an inclusive school climate for students and a community culture of acceptance, as well as give leadership development for people with disabilities.
This club started this year because Ms. Holly Cantrell’s daughter is a part of the chapter at Mary Persons High School. She believed such a successful chapter would benefit our students at Pike County High, so she discussed it with Special Ed Teacher Ms. Heather Maddox. Ms. Maddox suggested Chloe Collins as President because she volunteers a lot in the Special Ed Class. They worked together to choose officers last spring. Olivia Lynch is Vice President, Camille Miller is Secretary, and Ms. Cantrell and Ms. Maddox are advisors.
Chloe Collins has volunteered for special education since she was in third grade. She’s seen a lot of separation, even in high school, when one person sits alone at lunch. “This club brings us all together. We will grow and make our community a better place. Together we can make people stop looking down on those with disabilities,” she said. Olivia Lynch agrees, saying this club “not only brings special needs students into society, but it also helps everyone involved get to know each other.” Ms. Cantrell has seen kids who don’t fit into a “group.” This club has “met their needs” and “allowed them to join something. A new student was having a hard time and took advantage of being matched with a buddy by eating lunch with their new friend. It’s so nice to see,” she said.
The student leaders had to attend a leadership conference over the summer in Indiana. The Pike County Chapter’s dues paid for Chloe and Olivia to attend. They spent three days at the University of Indiana with other chapter leaders from all over the world. These students learned how to start, organize, and operate the club on their own.
In its first year, the club already has 46 members. Two weeks ago, the Best Buddies Club held a match party to put students into their buddy pairs. Only six buddy pairs were made because our school has a small special ed population. At the match party, members received pumpkins with a color underneath that matched the color of another person’s pumpkin.
So far, the club has held an informational meeting and a meet and greet for all members to meet each other. A parent dinner is being planned for the buddies and their peer buddies to meet each other's parents in November so that parents will be comfortable sending their children to activities with their peer buddies. The international requirements of the club state peer buddies must take their buddies out at least once a month and have contact at least twice a month. The chapter requires to meet once a month, and peer buddies must log “friendship updates” when they meet with their buddy at least twice a month.
For these meetings, the Best Buddies Club has received donations from American Pie and Chick-Fil-A and will be receiving more from Oink Joint. They’ve also done fundraising through selling t-shirts which anyone can purchase. Makayla Brooks won the competition the club held for t-shirt design with the quote, “Know me for my abilities, not my disability."
The leaders of this club have the goal for a big “Spread the World to End the R Word” movement which will get everyone in the school involved and aware. They also hope for the club to continue to expand and eventually get more schools within the district involved.
Submitted by Mindy Carlisle, Public Relations Intern and PCHS Senior