Best Buddies Ambassadors offers people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities training to gain the public speaking skills, self-esteem, and confidence needed to successfully advocate for themselves, their peers, and the Best Buddies mission of inclusion in schools, communities, and workplaces. Ambassadors become informed, engaging leaders by developing the skills to professionally share their life stories, promote Best Buddies programs, network, and advocate for diversity and inclusion.
In order to provide all of the participants in our programs the chance to become an ambassador, all states host at least two trainings each year; one in the fall and one in the spring. Each state is also encouraged to select 10-20 state ambassadors, who have met the outlined parameters below, to represent Best Buddies for a two-year term.
What is an ambassador?
A participant with or without IDD, youth or adult, who has completed an official Best Buddies ambassador training and is committed to promoting and educating audiences about the mission, philosophy, and benefits of Best Buddies through public speaking.
Who participates in the Ambassadors program?
- Ambassador – a participant with or without intellectual disabilities (IDD) who has completed official Best Buddies ambassador trainings and is committed to promoting and educating audiences about the mission, philosophy, and benefits of Best Buddies through public speaking.
- State ambassador – a participant with or without IDD who has successfully completed two ambassador trainings through their state program in one calendar year. The state evaluates and determines individuals to serve as state ambassadors for a two-year term based on benchmarks established by each state office individually.
- Global ambassador – a participant with or without IDD who has completed state and national trainings and has been invited to advocate and share their story at a national or international event on behalf of Best Buddies International. Global ambassadors are nominated by each state office based on their performance as a state ambassadors. These ambassadors are ultimately chosen to represent the organization for the two-year term by the Best Buddies Leadership Team, in tandem with the state recommendations.
- Facilitator – Best Buddies staff person or trained volunteer who leads an ambassadors training. Volunteers can consist of board members, advisors, student leaders, or a previously trained ambassador who has been selected and approved by Best Buddies staff.
- Speech coach – a volunteer who is paired with one ambassador for the duration of an ambassadors training to assist with the writing and practicing of a speech. Speech coaches help ambassadors in areas of brainstorming, organization, and editing. Speech coaches should not be writing speeches for their matched ambassadors, but serve as a guide/mentor who provides one-on-one attention as needed.
There are two different levels of ambassadors after they are trained locally:
State ambassadors: State ambassadors are participants with and without IDD who have successfully completed two trainings through their state ambassadors program in one calendar year and have been selected by their state as a state ambassador. Once trained and selected, ambassadors are expected to identify opportunities in their chapters, communities, and states to share their stories and become more involved and empower citizens.
Expectations each year as a state ambassador:
- Attend at least 2 state trainings
- Identify at least 4 local or state speaking opportunities
- Attend at least 3 Best Buddies local or state events
Global ambassadors: Global ambassadors are participants with and without IDD who develop the skills to professionally share their inspiring life stories, promote Best Buddies programs, network, and most importantly, advocate. By being a selected global ambassador by BBI, a participant is meeting the ambassador program’s three pillars; advocacy, networking, and being inspiring.
Expectations of a global ambassador each year:
- Attend at least 1 state training a year
- Attend Best Buddies Leadership Conference
- Attend at least 1 Leadership Academy training
- Identify a local, state or national speaking opportunity at least once a month
- Attend at least 3 Best Buddies state or local events and national events if asked (all travel expenses will be covered by BBI)
While representing Best Buddies as a state or global ambassador one needs to embody the following qualities:
- Humility: Ambassador is self-aware of their unique qualities and stays free of pride or arrogance
- Professionalism: Conducts themselves in a respectful, honest and responsible way upholding the standards of BBI
- Appearance: Ambassador presents themselves in a clean, well kept, and appropriate attire
- Attitude: Maintains a positive perspective on their role as an ambassador and BBI
- Personal Conduct: Behaves in an appropriate manner by treating people with respect, acting lawfully and showing leadership in their daily lives
- Experience: Has been engaged in at least one BB program and attends ambassador trainings regularly
Individual states host trainings that provide quality, comprehensive education on advocacy, public speaking, and networking. Best Buddies International offers online trainings and in-person trainings at the Annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference, held each July. For individuals who wish to attend the global conference, they should work closely with their state staff representative to ensure they meet all attendance expectations and are able to fully participate in all aspects of the conference.
To be a volunteer facilitator for an ambassador training is simple and fun! Just follow the simple steps below:
1) Decide on the date, time and location of the training
2) Recruit ambassadors and speech coaches
3) Choose your training from the resources below
4) Reach out to your local Best Buddies staff for assistance
5) Have Fun!