Over the past two years, you may have seen a group of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, IDD, on campus from time to time. If so, you may have caught a glimpse of the Best Buddies club, a student organization that invites college-aged people with disabilities such as Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and cerebral palsy, to campus. Once a week, however, they have the opportunity to join the broader community at Colorado College, for an experience that benefits everyone.
Ayla Loper ’18 and Abigail Moore ’18 started the Best Buddies club two years ago. They were originally unaffiliated with the national organization but were contacted by a representative during the second year of leading the club; it is now part of a worldwide program that connects people with IDD to the larger community. Globally they have 2,151 chapters, reaching a total almost 1 million people. Different chapters have different aims, dedicated to ending social, physical, and economic isolation through one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development programs. Being a part of the global network allows club members to gain access to resources and trainings. Though this club is small, it is a part of something much bigger.
The club leaders this year, Ivaly Cline ’19 and Will Osier ’20, are expanding the impact of the club yet again. They just began a partnership with the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association, an organization that connects people in the Down syndrome community with local resources. Every Wednesday, they host life skills classes on CC’s campus. They also organize a party open to all every second Friday.
Last block was the Best Buddies ‘Winter Ball.’ Set up in Gaylord Hall, there was music, food, and dancing. About halfway through the event, one of the buddies realized the mic was plugged in. Soon they were taking turns singing, requesting songs, and belting them out. There was a new buddy in the room this time. He requested a slow, passionate song and, standing at the front of the room proudly, he sang the whole thing for the crowd that had gathered. There were CC students, parents, and buddies in the crowd, totaling at least 40 people. After a long applause, his mom walked up to Cline and said, “That was the first time he has ever done anything like that.” For Cline, it was a moment that reminded her why she worked so hard to make this club a reality.
Today in Gaylord Hall will be the first Best Buddies party of the semester, the Valentine’s Day Dance. There will be music, dancing, and a potluck. “There were overwhelming amounts of food,” Cline said about the last potluck in November. The whole CC community is invited to stop by to make some Valentines cards, eat some food, and get to know the buddies.