Dana Hall bids farewell to Best Buddies

Best Buddies, a popular club at Dana Hall, has come to an end on campus.

The nonprofit organization Best Buddies International is dedicated to “establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” 

Dana Hall hosted a Best Buddies club for 14 years. Dana students could be matched one-on-one with a “buddy,” someone who has an intellectual or developmental disability. Club members also participated in group activities with buddies, including bowling, plays, miniature golf, riding, and a semi-formal dance at the end of the school year.

However, there has been a major decline in buddies with disabilities, at the same time that there has been an increase in students from Dana wanting to join the club. The buddies who participated in the club at Dana were a variety of ages and lived around the Wellesley/Weston area.

BB horseAnother challenge that the club faced was that, because Dana Hall is a private school, students and their buddies did not attend school together. “If they [the buddies] went to Dana, they would be able to spend one-on-one time together during the day, like eating lunch together,” says Ms. Donna Corrigan, one of the faculty advisors of the Best Buddies club. In public schools and schools with students who have special needs, where there are both students and buddies attending the school, the lack of participation in regular one-on-one activities is not an issue.

The end of the Best Buddies club was sudden, and a lot of students who had participated in the club for a long time were surprised. Ms. Corrigan says, “I think they were disappointed, but a lot of them realized that there was a decline in the buddies so they weren’t shocked by the news that it was ending.”

The club created many friendships between students and buddies. Kailey Musco ’17 says, “Best Buddies was such an amazing club because I learned so much from it. I made friends with so many new people, and I had so much fun at every Best Buddies event. I will miss having this club at Dana because I had so much fun being a part of it.”BB horse individual

Ms. Corrigan says that she and previous club members and advisors “have chatted about how to stay involved with the organization without necessarily running an organized club.” Some of these ideas include fundraising for the Best Buddies organization and participating in bigger events such as the Pan Mass Challenge.

Although Best Buddies is not currently offered as a club at Dana, there is a possibility that it could start up sometime in the future, if the needs of buddies with special needs increases.

Photos: Dana Hall students and “buddies” in previous years’ activities. Photo credit: Ms. Donna Corrigan.

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