One-to-One Friendship: Natalie and Maria
Natalie is a senior at Dunlap High School. This fall will be here fourth year in Dunlap’s Best Buddies school friendship program. Unlike many other students Natalie joined Best Buddies for a different reason.
I joined Best Buddies because of my younger brother. My brother has a disability and I wanted to be friends with people like him because he’s awesome.
With such a close relationship with her own brother, Natalie hoped that other general education students could see how similar students with disabilities were to their peers.
The first time Natalie met her Buddy, Maria, freshman year was during a club event during the school day. At first Maria was shy, but they quickly grew closer with their similar interests. Even with similar interests both of the friends still go out of their ways to try each other’s hobbies.
My favorite memory was when we went to Fired Up, a pottery studio. Maria is very artistic and I am definitely not! We painted and had so much fun. I got to see her creative side. After we went for ice cream and just hung out. However, I was most surprised when I brought her home that night. Her dad couldn’t stop thanking me, but it was normal for me.
The friendships made in Best Buddies impact far more than just the two that are paired together. Other students in school, parents, teachers, and the community all benefit from relationships like Natalie and Maria.
Best Buddies has done a lot for me specifically because I get to take a leadership role as an officer. Having this role has not only taught me to be a leader, but I get to see other people and how it’s changing them.
Natalie’s goal for her buddy is to bring her experiences that are as similar as any other high school student. Natalie hopes that one day her brother, Maria, or any other person with a disability won’t need organizations like Best Buddies to feel a part of their own communities.