Best Buddies awarded ‘Outstanding Chapter’

Cassidy Wang, A&E Editor

Kendall Sweeney

Best Buddies was named 2016 “Outstanding Chapter of the Year” in MA for demonstrating exceptional friendships between those with and without disabilities.

According to the Best Buddies website, Best Buddies International is a nonprofit organization, in which volunteers create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Each year, Best Buddies Massachusetts selects one school and recognizes them as the best in the program.

“In order for our Best Buddies chapter to obtain this award, we had to meet the criteria provided by Best Buddies International program,” Best Buddies President Kate Crimmings said. “Our chapter was successful in promoting our mission of social inclusion and setting the foundation for long-lasting friendships between those with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

With this new title, Best Buddies will be eligible to apply for the International Outstanding Chapter Award.

“We get to now submit a portfolio where we showcase our outstanding buddy pairs, the wide variety of inclusive opportunities created by our student leaders, and the impact ARHS Best Buddies has on our school and civic communities,” Best Buddies adviser Ken Hausmann said.

According to Hausmann, although there is a low chance Best Buddies will advance and get selected, making the portfolio helps the club reflect on their strengths as a chapter and areas in which they could improve.

Officer and junior Katelyn Li believes Best Buddies won the new title for constantly demonstrating its spirit in every event and having members committed to their mission.

“I think this year we’ve been especially successful with that because we’ve had a really good leadership team,” Li said. “All of our officers have been able to work together really well and make the events such a big success. The buddy pairs have been really close this year too; some great friendships have been formed.”

According to Li, being recognized is honorable, but it does not change Best Buddies’ objectives.

Officer and senior Rachel Seymour is thrilled that Best Buddies was named the best chapter in MA.

“It makes me feel happy,” Seymour said. “Maybe we will get another [award].”

For Crimmings, the most rewarding aspect of the title was not the material award itself.

“We did not strive to achieve this award, or even consider the award during this year,” Crimmings said. “However, obtaining this award solidified our success in promoting social inclusion in our community and impacting society on the statewide level.”

Because Best Buddies did not set the “Outstanding Chapter” award as their goal, they were not expecting it.

“However, this award was simply motivation to do more within ARHS and the community to promote inclusion even more,” Crimmings said.

Hausmann believes the most rewarding aspect of the award is that it does not reflect on the current Best Buddies student leaders, members, and advisors, but it’s a reflection of all the outstanding Algonquin students who have stepped up to make a difference in each others’ lives over many years.

“This award is the result of students learning from each other and growing from our past successes and challenges,” Hausmann said. “I commend all of our past officers, buddy pairs, associate members, parents, and faculty supporters who supported Best Buddies because they believed that celebrating others for their abilities rather than their disabilities is more than just something that is Best Buddies, rather this is what we do at Algonquin.”