Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization with the ultimate goal of fostering true friendships between those with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was founded by Anthony K. Shriver in 1989. Its chapter at Washburn University was founded by its current President, Baylee Wolf, a sophomore psychology major and leadership studies minor, in 2018.
Wolf got the idea of establishing Best Buddies from the group project in psychology class. “I took Leadership 100 last year. In that class, we do a group project called the Campus Action Project (CAP),” said Wolf, “We really wanted to focus on making true friendships and not just partnering people up and hoping for the best. And by doing that, we wanted to decrease stereotypes, misconceptions and stigmas… It took a few months for us to find best buddies.”
Wolf wants to help people who are marginalized seek true friendship.
“The reason I’m a psychology major is because I see a lot of misconceptions, stigmas and stereotypes about mental health things. Even though this isn’t necessarily exactly bad, I think giving people who are marginalized, creating true friendships with them, and showing the world that the stereotypes and the misconceptions are false,” said Wolf, “My ultimate goal in life is to help people who are marginalized in that way. I think that this is a great opportunity to start doing that and start following my dream.”
The mission of Best Buddies is to foster true friendships, bringing the Topeka community and Washburn University together in ways that they have never had before.
“This is such a cool opportunity, and that you can make such a difference in somebody else’s life who has been marginalized and who isn’t given the same opportunities as most of us are. By making such a difference in their lives, it will be really cool to see the difference that they make in yours,” said Wolf.
Best Buddies had its first meeting in the Blair Room in the Living Learning Center on Wednesday Sept. 11, introducing this new-born organization to new and prospective members.
During the meeting, Wolf explained what Best Buddies is, the goals and requirements of it and talked about the upcoming events.
Kylie Hawkins, the events coordinator of Best Buddies, said that, “We are thinking about talking to someone who works on campaigns and teaches one of the after high school programs for adults of IDD (Intellectual development disorder) and see if she wanted to somehow partner with us.”
Students can benefit a lot from being a part of Best Buddies.
“They can benefit a new friend. They can benefit by being exposed to people and a culture and demographic to which they’ve never been exposed to before. They can really learn a lot from people who have different experiences than they do, and their eyes will be opened a lot,” said Wolf.
Students are invited to be associate members of Best Buddies. The membership applications are due Oct. 1.
Edited by Jessica Galvin, Jackson Woods