Anthony K. Shriver, founder of Best Buddies, presents the National Outstanding Chapter Award to UD's Hillary Wein.

Best Buddies

UD Best Buddies receives National Outstanding Chapter Award

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2:20 p.m., Nov. 9, 2012--For the second year in a row, the University of Delaware’s chapter of Best Buddies was presented with the National Outstanding Chapter Award during the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference.

Each year, Best Buddies International selects outstanding college chapters based on the quality of one-to-one friendships, group outings, chapter involvement, community awareness and chapter communication. This year, Hillary Wein, vice president of UD’s Best Buddies, accepted the award at the Inclusion Revolution: 23rd Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference in July.

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Made up of 50 students from UD and coordinated by Gary Allison, assistant professor in the School of Education, Best Buddies pairs up students with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be "buddies" through mentoring and friendship.

The chapter sponsors two programs -- volunteering at the Mary Campbell Center in Wilmington and assisting with the Career and Life Studies Certificate (CLSC) program within the College of Education and Human Development.

Many of the students who participate are pursuing degrees in elementary education, special education or disability studies and this program allows them to gauge their interest.

Jessica Yanez, president of UD’s Best Buddies admitted, “Interest is so high in this program, we had to turn down almost 100 people this semester due to not having enough buddies to pair with.”

Yanez has found participation in Best Buddies to be a valuable experience. “I am majoring in elementary teacher education, with a special education concentration and minor in disabilities studies. My work with Best Buddies validated my decision to teach special education after graduation.”

She continued, “Not only has it helped me decide what I want to do with the rest of my life, but my time at Mary Campbell Center with my buddy has served as a truly cathartic experience for me -- I have never once left in a bad mood. Best Buddies really serves as a reminder to what life is really about, and I will never forget the experiences I have had throughout this incredible program.”

Article by Alison Burris

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