México—On March 12, 2016 Best Buddies México held its inaugural Friendship Walk in Parque Bicentenario in Ciudad de México. The walk was a lively and festive event that brought people from all over the country out to support the Best Buddies’ Mission. The event had a stunning turnout, with over 1,000 people in attendance. The large and exuberant crowd walked four kilometers (2.5 miles) to support Best Buddies Programs, such as the Friendship and Citizens programs, which have positively affected the lives of many people.
On the day of the Friendship Walk, musicians involved with Best Buddies premiered their song Soy Como Tú/ I am like you. The up-tempo melody reaffirmed the importance of social inclusion, and that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are just like everyone else.
Best Buddies arrived in México in 2003 with an initial group of thirty buddy pairs. Since then Best Buddies programs have burgeoned in fourteen cities across México with over 1700 participants nationwide. Most of the participants are young adults from the high school and university programs.
Since Best Buddies arrival many legislative changes have been enacted to support individuals with IDD. Some of these changes have created financial incentives for business that hire people with IDD, which in turn directly advance and honor the spirit of Article 22 that was established in 2009. The Mexican Labor Secretary enacted the Business Inclusion Acknowledgement (Reconocimento de Empresa Incluyente), which gives business that hire employees with IDD a distinguishing logo on their products. This logo expresses to consumers the progressive and inclusive attitudes of the companies they purchase from.
The Best Buddies Jobs Program has helped many people with IDD find fulfilling and gainful employment. Liliana Arredondo has worked as a Human Resources Assistant at UnoTV since June 2014 (will include image of her on site post); Karla Diaz Barrera has been with American Tower since November 2014 as an Administrative Assistant.
Since the inception of Best Buddies México we have seen an exponential increase in the employment of individuals with IDD. Best Buddies México is an exemplar of the Best Buddies Mission—they have brought opportunities and friendships to remote areas, increased the employment levels of people with IDD and have established lifelong friendships. Their continued expansion and efforts is truly inspiring.