The Bestest of Buddies

A closer look into the Trojan Buddies program

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The Bestest of Buddies

Senior Caitlin Lash spends time at a Trojan Buddies with buddies furry and not so furry.

Senior Caitlin Lash spends time at a Trojan Buddies with buddies furry and not so furry.

Senior Caitlin Lash spends time at a Trojan Buddies with buddies furry and not so furry.

Senior Caitlin Lash spends time at a Trojan Buddies with buddies furry and not so furry.

Daniel Brinkmeyer, Reporter

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Often times, when people hear the phrase ‘special needs,’ they tend to turn the other way. They don’t mean to be rude or impolite, but they fear they’ll offend someone by saying or doing something offhand. There’s a special group of people, though, working to end this stigma.

“It’s so weird to imagine people thinking that special needs kids are any different than us.” said sophomore Annemarie Jones, vice president of Park Hill’s own ‘Trojan Buddies’, a Troyian twist on the altruistic and heartwarming organization widely known as Best Buddies.

Despite the name change, the heart of the two programs is the very same: to use the principles of inclusion to end the social isolation of those with disabilities, and provide them with “one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development.”

Since its institution in early 2016, Trojan Buddies has opened the door for countless relationships to sprout between people with and without special needs who otherwise, probably never would have met.

“Once a month we have an activity,” said Julie Tuck, English teacher and one third of the team that runs Trojan Buddies, “[in September] we paired up with the volleyball team, and some of the football players went to their homeroom yesterday. We even played ping pong last year.”

These simple activities are groundbreaking when it comes to ending the senseless stigma around those with special needs.

“It’s so cool being able to see their faces light up when they see you say ‘hi’ in the hallway,” said Jones. “You go to a meeting and they give you a hug because they haven’t seen you in two weeks.”

With student accounts like this, it’s clear that the program has done what it’s meant to, and it’s clear that Trojan Buddies works just as well as the age-old Best Buddies.

Still though, the question rings: why did we decide to spontaneously change the name? According to Tuck, “the national organization had quite a few stipulations that we couldn’t meet.”

Requirements like one on one pairings and far-away conventions that Trojan Buddies simply wasn’t able to do.

“Everything that we do in Trojan Buddies, we kind of made it our own instead of doing everything that the national group wants,” said Tuck. “We took Best Buddies, we changed the name, and…this is what works for us.”

Three months into the school year, and every Trojan Buddy has left every meeting with that fuzzy feeling that this safe space consistently provides.