This July, the Best Buddies Club at St. John’s received the Outstanding Promoter Chapter Award, an award given annually to the school in the DC and Virginia area that exemplified the most impressive service to Best Buddies International.
The award was accepted by Meghan Strachan ’19 on behalf of the SJC Best Buddies Club. St. John’s was recognized for the partnership that the Best Buddies Club formed with the Kennedy School, a school located in DC that focuses on educating children and young adults with mental disabilities. Last year, the club visited the Kennedy School four times and spent time doing crafts with and talking to different students.
St. John’s Best Buddies chapter was founded in 2016 by Strachan and Grace Falcone ’19, and both have worked to raise awareness for the club and its values. The goals of the club are to “promote inclusion and respect for people with developmental disabilities,” said Strachan.
The organization at St. John’s is a part of Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing worldwide economic and social inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities. The SJC club was responsible for a “Spread the Word to End the Word” event held last year, during which many students pledged to not use the r-word, a term formerly used to describe people with disabilities that today many find degrading.
The Best Buddies Club is still growing and planning on hosting more events and partnerships in the future, including a friendship walk to be organized this year.
“I think what’s most rewarding about Best Buddies is how rather than serving people with disabilities, we help empower them so that they can lead themselves. We are only helping them to achieve what they are already capable of doing by giving them proper opportunities,” said Strachan.
“I enjoy being around people with different abilities. I truly believe that this club could benefit so many people. I went to an all-inclusive school before coming to St. John’s, where people with disabilities were seen as friends, and regular people. I see the value in that and I love that Best Buddies continues that and that I can help continue that through my work in Best Buddies,” said Olivia Cristillo ’21, another participant in the club.