NECC Observer

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

Best Buddies recruitment

Best Buddies program needs more students to participate

Image says "Best Buddies" at the top. Has two solid colored people with their arms around each other

Optimism poured into the room as ideas were bouncing off the walls. A group of dedicated students and faculty met Monday Feb. 4 in SC 106 to discuss the next steps of bringing a Best Buddies chapter to Northern Essex. Although some students have signed up to be a part of the chapter, more slots need to be filled for the program to stay.

It is recruitment time for the group and they are determined to make the program work out. “We need at least 10 students to sign up so we can move forward with the program,” Noreen Fantasia, the Program Assistant in the Career Center, said with a little worry in her voice. There are plenty of Buddies signed up for the program, but there needs to be more Peer Buddies (NECC students).

The Transition Opportunities Program (TOP) and the Macy Program has successfully integrated students with disabilities into Northern Essex. According to the TOP webpage, it is a program that is in collaboration with Andover and North Andover Public Schools. They help students transition from high school to college and jobs. The site states that “An integral part of the program is participation in activities and courses on the campus of Northern Essex Community College where students have the opportunity to integrate into a college campus. Students are able to access the sports and fitness center, library, book store and campus activities.” Deborah Regan, the Associate Director of the Learning Accommodations Center, pointed out that “we already have a population for the Buddies. We are very fortunate to have that on campus.” 

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating bridges and friendships between people with disabilities and people without. They create opportunities and environments where friendships can develop and grow in schools across America. According to the Best Buddies website, it is the “largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” They have even teamed up with Tom Brady and Julian Edelman to create events for the Best Buddies participants and to help raise money for the program. 

Being a Peer Buddy means that you would be paired with a Buddy that has similar interests as you do. You would be in contact with them at least 3 times a month. These contacts can be over the phone or in person. The chapter will set up events that the buddy pairs can attend. 

There are 25 colleges in Massachusetts that have a Best Buddies chapter currently running. If Northern Essex starts its own chapter, it will be the first community college in Massachusetts to have a Best Buddies chapter. This is a great opportunity for the school and its students to be a part of. The dedicated team that is trying to bring the program to Northern Essex are facing the challenges head on.  If you are interested in learning more about how you can be involved in the program, please email Lucas Unger at 00305347@student.necc.edu or Deborah Regan at dregan@necc.mass.edu.

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