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The movement for the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities led to a proclamation of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987. A month of recognition has led to many opportunities for our fellow citizens with developmental disabilities.
One way to celebrate and activate this month is by learning about the efforts of Best Buddies International. They are the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
They promote inclusion through four mission pillars: friendship, employment, leadership, and living.
Anthony Kennedy Shriver started the organization’s first program, a Friendship Chapter, at his college in 1989. These chapters foster one-to-one friendships between students without IDD and their peers on campus or in the community with IDD. Young adults with IDD historically have been isolated at home or in work environments. The Best Buddies program is changing this by providing the opportunity for people with IDD to be involved in their local campus and community life.
One student shared, “My life has taken a turn for the better since joining Best Buddies. I have a better understanding that people have differences, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be included. I have also grown as a person being more accepting and understanding of others’ special abilities. My best buddy, Katie, also says that Best Buddies has changed her life.” – Adyson
Changing perceptions of people with developmental disabilities is better for everyone. At Best Buddies, we take this month to reflect on the importance of friendship, jobs, and future leaders’ development. Most importantly, it is a time to show the world the significance of these essentials to every individual’s life.
Here are a few actions you can take this month to learn about and support people with developmental disabilities:
Participate Join us to watch the Virtual Best Buddies Friendship Walk in Ohio on May 13th! Details at www.bestbuddiesfriendshipwalk.org/ohio.
Catlin Skufca, State Director, Ohio
Best Buddies International