Best Buddies Program Gains New Popularity

by Victoria Jones

Simpson College Students are proud to participate in an international organization that helps people with disabilities called Best Buddies.

“Best Buddies is one of the best organizations a college student could get involved in,” senior Molly Tubaugh said. “You learn so much about yourself and really understand what a true friendship is.”

Best Buddies is a one-on-one friendship between a college student and a “buddy” – a person with an intellectual or developmental disability. Buddies hang out once a week and attend a party together every month. Through this time spent together, they are able to form a friendship with one another.

“I really like it when my buddy calls me and we go out and do things together,” Best Buddies member Karen Bush said.

The college student and the buddy are both impacted by the experience. They are given the chance to form a meaningful relationship with someone they may have never met otherwise. Without realizing it, both are being taught valuable skills and lessons through the time they spend together.

“It has gotten me to open up more,” Bush said. “I’m not as shy as I used to be.”

Tubaugh, who has been involved with Best Buddies since her freshman year, plans to teach special education. Best Buddies was a great opportunity for her to get experience with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“My buddy is so special to me,” Tubaugh said. “We have grown to become best buddies and I appreciate everything she has taught me.”

Juggling classes, student teaching, responsibilities as President of Student Alumni Association and leading Best Buddies was too much for just one student to handle. Tubaugh decided to hand down her title as College Buddy Director to sophomore Amanda Coughenour.

“I have always wanted to work with people with disabilities,” Coughenour said. “I thought it would have a big impact on me, which it’s turned out to have.”

After attending the Best Buddies Leadership Conference, Coughenour is excited to lead the program at Simpson College. This year she has a lot planned for the program.

Along with fundraisers, she plans to hold events to raise awareness for the Best Buddies program. Coughenour hopes to have a few buddies come and speak at these events in order to inform the audience about their disabilities and what they have gone through so far in life.

“I have an uncle with an intellectual disability, and I know how much it would change his life if he had someone to call his friend,” Tubaugh said. “This program is such a good service to someone that really needs this friendship, but I feel like I may get more out of it. It is such a rewarding feeling to know that I am making a huge difference in someones life.”

New faces are always welcomed to join in at parties. Buddies without a friend are more than happy to have someone there to spend time with. Students interested should contact Coughenour for details on meetings and how to get a buddy.