The power of the Citizens program is the genuine friendships that form between adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and the impact that people in the community will have witnessing that friendship in action. Through your friendship, you will:
Help shatter misconceptions about people with IDD
Begin creating more inclusive social circles for your family and friends
Increase awareness for the Best Buddies mission which in turn increases opportunities for programmatic growth and impact
Why is it important?
For those of us without IDD, if given 60 seconds to write down the names of as many friends, family and acquaintances as we can, we average 50 names. If you do that same activity with a person with IDD, their list averages just 5 names. From 50 to 5, just because they have IDD. And of those 5, it is usually family (mom, dad, brother) and people paid to be in their lives like group home staff, social workers or job coaches. Typically, these are situational relationships more than they are friendships.
Local group home residents are often woken up by staff in the morning, have breakfast with their roommates, go to a day program (teaching life-skills/job training) for 5-6 hours with their staff and then head home with their staff and roommates. Some residents have jobs in the community in which case they have access to more people and more chances for interaction, but most are pretty regimented in their routines and social circles.
Your friendship is the door to new relationships, a meaningful friendship outside of roommates and staff, and the opportunity to have independence many residents don’t have. Friendship opens new doors and is the core of human existence!
What is the commitment?
Like all relationships, the more time you invest in getting to know someone, the stronger your connection will be. Your Best Buddies friendship is no different. As a matched Buddy pair, you are asked to communicate 1x per week (email, text, call, social media - whatever is natural for you both!) and spend quality time together 2X per month.
What types of activities can we do together?
Nothing is off-limits! We want your Best Buddies friendship to mirror the other relationships in your life. What do you like to do in your downtime or with other people? Many pairs grab a beer and watch sports, go to movies, museums, concerts, and coffee. You can go for walks, to free community events or simply grab a meal together. Don’t neglect your interests by only doing activities your Buddy likes to do...this is a two-way friendship! Some of our Buddies haven’t had a chance to try new things or regularly go to the same places because it isn’t easy for their staff to manage. So, you have a chance to bring new activities and opportunities their way. You can say, "I would love to do XYZ this month and you can pick next time" or "let’s check out the art fair and if we don’t like it, we can go somewhere else". The only restriction(s) that might be put in place are communicated on an "as needed" basis and often center on medication/health reasons and/or mobility.
For more information, check out this amazing friendship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPBpBwmtI3c&t=11s
To get involved please contact Nicole Meier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-604-7376 ext. 6.
No additional volunteer opportunities at this time.
About Best Buddies Pennsylvania
226 Paul Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15211, US
Best Buddies Pennsylvania, a state affiliate of Best Buddies International, Inc., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships.
Best Buddies Pennsylvania offers four of the six formal Best Buddies programs: Best Buddies Middle Schools, Best Buddies High Schools, Best Buddies Colleges, and e-Buddies.
Best Buddies Colleges Best Buddies Colleges pairs people with intellectual disabilities in one-to-one friendships with college students. In the past, individuals with intellectual disabilities have not had the opportunity to have friends outside of their own environment. By becoming a College Buddy, volunteers offer a Peer Buddy the chance to explore a new way of life. College chapters have grown from one single chapter at Georgetown to active chapters on more than 425 campuses worldwide.
Best Buddies High Schools Since 1993, Best Buddies High Schools has paired students with intellectual disabilities in one-to-one friendships with high school students. By introducing Best Buddies into public and private high schools, participants are crossing the invisible line that too often separates those with disabilities from those without. Today, Best Buddies boasts more than 900 high school chapters worldwide.
Best Buddies Middle Schools In today's middle schools, students with intellectual disabilities often enter the same building and walk the same hallways as their peers, but they are left out of social activities. Started in 2001, Best Buddies Middle Schools is already active on 145 middle school campuses pairing students with intellectual disabilities in one-to-one friendships.
e-Buddies e-Buddies is an e-mail pen pal program for people with an intellectual disability of all ages (10 years old and up) and peer volunteers from across the United States and around the globe. e-Buddies is a fun and safe way to make a new friend in a secure online setting, and is available to anyone who has an e-mail address. e-Buddies can also be a great teaching tool for a special education classroom that can help teach social skills, as well as literacy and computer skills. Joining e-Buddies is quick and easy. Simply visit www.ebuddies.org to read more and to complete the online application.