NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Best buddies coming to NECC

There will be an information session about Best Buddies held on Tuesday October 30 from 12:30 till 1:30 in B-Building room 303 on the Haverhill Campus. Best Buddies is a non-profit organization that brings opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). According to their website, they are “the largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities”. A participant with IDD is paired up with a student who shares the same interests and lives nearby. There are at least three contacts between the participant and their buddy. This could be over the phone or in person. When the participant and buddy meet up, they can engage in activities like going bowling or going to a sports game. Best Buddies staff members will monitor the progress and how the buddies interact together.

        A small group is organizing Best Buddies this semester at Northern Essex and are hoping to have it up and running by the Spring Semester. NECC will be the first community college in Massachusetts to start a Best Buddies chapter. Lucas Unger, an Electrical Engineer major, said that Best Buddies will bring people together and show people how to help in the community. He said that being a part of the program in high school was enjoyable and gave people a reason to be involved in the school and community. Deborah Regan, the Associate Director of the Learning Accommodations Center, said that the relationships built goes beyond the classroom. “People get caught up in differences,” she said. People are too focused on how others are different, but “differences enrich us,” Regan added.

“the largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities”
Best Buddies Website

        “It’s not a chore to be in the Best Buddies program. It’s fun and it’s a great friendship that forms. It makes you feel like you’re helping someone out,” Unger said. Noreen Fantasia, Program Assistant in the Career Center, said that her son was in the Best Buddies program in high school. She said that it helped enrich his life and she saw it help both her son’s and his buddy’s confidence. It helps people realize that they can hang out with anyone and it’s not limited to a small group of people. Best Buddies will help the community grow closer together and It can help people from different backgrounds.

        According to their website, Best Buddies has impacted over 1,200,000 people in 50 states, 48 countries, and six continents. There are over 27,000 college students participating in the program around the world. Now, students at Northern Essex can expand that number.