Decked out in costumes, the Best Buddies held a Halloween party in a decorated Currier Ballroom on Sunday, Oct. 28. Best Buddies is a national non-profit organization that has just recently revived its chapter at Williams.
“[Best Buddies] pairs interested and dedicated college students at Williams with people with developmental disabilities in the community,” said Kathleen Smith ’03, the leader of the Williams chapter.
Founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the mission of Best Buddies is to “enhance the lives of people with mental retardation by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment.” At the moment, 13 Williams students are paired with buddies from the community.
The Halloween Party was the group’s kick-off activity for the year, as it introduced college students to their newly paired buddies and reunited old buddy pairs. The Best Buddy pairs competed with other pairs in a costume competition. “We gave out prizes for the costume contest, like bowling gift certificates and movie tickets, so that students and their buddies could do the activities together,” said Smith.
The event featured activities such as cookie decorating, a ghost piÃ±ata and a game in which a donut is eaten off a string without using one’s hands. In addition, the Store at Five Corners and Green River Produce and Stables donated pumpkins, which the Best Buddy pairs decorated.
“All these games are in hopes that everyone has fun and grows closer to their particular buddies,” said Smith. Both the Williams student members and their buddies gain a lot from the program, sshe continued.
“It’s so rewarding and fun for everyone involved,” she said. “The buddies love it, the college students love it and solid friendships are born. The buddies gain friends that they can hang out with and go bowling with, things they don’t do on a regular basis with younger, college-aged students.”
“Friends are so important to have fun, enjoy life and feel connected to,” added Smith. “Best Buddies tries to make that fun and camaraderie possible for many through one-on-one friendships and parties, like the Halloween party, because everyone needs and deserves a friend.”
In addition to the annual Halloween party, Best Buddies also plans group activities, including theme parties, cookouts and dance-a-thon fundraisers. “These group activities are also open to anyone interested in the program,” said Smith, who said that the Best Buddies program always welcomes new members.