Nadia Kerman, a Cardington-Lincoln High School Senior, has organized a ‘Best Buddies’ program at the high school.
She relayed the program’s purpose to members of the Cardington-Lincoln Board of Education during their recent meeting.
She was inspired to the program’s founding after attending Camp SOAR in Wisconsin this summer where she was a camp counselor. The overnight camp for kids with special needs was run by Children’s Research Triangle, from Chicago.
“This experience furthered my passion in making everyone aware of kids with special needs and try to instill in those students that everyone needs a friend, no matter their background.”
During her week at Camp SOAR, she realized all the things that she could do and was driven to strive for more.
“I think everyone should have an experience like this in which they realize they are capable of much more than they originally think they are.”
“Michael Phelps actually said something recently that really resonated with my experience at Camp SOAR. He said ‘I think goals should never be easy they force you to work even when they are uncomfortable at the time.’”
“Camp SOAR made me step out of my comfort zone and I am thankful for that because it has helped me further my passion for working with kids with special needs. I would never know that without stepping outside of my comfort zone and spending a great few weeks in Wisconsin,” said Nadia.
The Best Buddies Program’s mission is a non profit 501 c (3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one to one friendships and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
The IDD community that Best Buddies serves includes but is not limited to people with Down Syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams Syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.
The program is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with IDD.
For individuals within this community, Best Buddies helps them form meaningful friendships with their peers.
Nadia explained that she is passionate about things of this nature and she feels “Everyone needs a buddy.”
The Cardington-Lincoln High School students are the Step by Step program students. Helping to organize the program is the lead staff sponsor, Julia White. Kerman is the student involved in coordinating and organizing the chapter
She asked the board’s approval which was given. The program will kick off every other Friday during lunch when they will eat with their buddies and following the learned interests they will start some trips to eat and to visit the local parks.
No funding is requested from the school – the $60 joining fee will be fronted by Kerman Fund raisers will be carried out for the annual cost of $60. She suggests that interested persons go to the Gofundmepage and she will be glad to hear other fund raising ideas. Once the first year is completed and members show growth, a Best Buddies $20,000 grant can be applied for.
High School requirements for membership include no grades lower than a “C.” (This is to ensure that academics are taken seriously; (2) must show interest and not just doing it to build a resume; (this will be obvious after the first couple of lunches and then buddies will be assigned after checking everyone’s interest level; and third, everyone will take a pre-test and a post-test on character – – – this is to show growth so a grant can be applied for.
Buddy requirements are :Parents must sign a form to allow their child to participate; a photo release form must be signed and they must be ready to have fun.
Kerman said there are chapters being organized across the US with 16 in Ohio and an active one as close as Reynoldsburg.
Board members praised Kerman for organizing this program. Board president Chuck Jones said “It’s a wonderful program and we appreciate the work you have put into it. Your willingness to bring it to Cardington says a lot about what you do It’s not only good for large schools like Reynoldsburg but good for small schools, too. Supt Petrie said “We’re excited to work with you. I also appreciate the fact that you have planned it to be sustainable will continue in years to come.”
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