Best Buddies Ambassadors is a program that provides training for participants with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in areas of speech writing, public speaking, and self-advocacy. Ambassadors develop the skills to professionally share their life stories, promote Best Buddies programs, network, and most importantly, advocate. The Ambassadors program prepares people to become active agents of change and informed, engaging advocates for the disability rights movement.
In order to provide all of the participants in our programs the chance to become an ambassador, all states are required to host at least two ambassador 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.
To ensure that we are reaching out to as many participants as possible in each region, we require the states to enter all of their ambassador trainings in our tracking system located on the Best Buddies’ SharePoint site. Another goal is to capture any ambassadors who have spoken at state functions or performed (dance, singing, instrument, etc.) in our tracking system. It assists the ambassador team in selecting participants for Best Buddies events and helps us track the participants that are utilizing the skills they learned in their ambassador trainings.
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 ambassador program?
- Ambassador – a participant with and 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 and without IDD who has successfully completed two ambassador trainings through their state ambassadors 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 ambassador and meeting all state ambassador guidelines. 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.
- Ambassador Liaison – a Best Buddies state staff member who has been appointed to oversee the Ambassadors program in their office or state; responsibilities include organizing ambassador trainings, managing all ambassador tracking online, recruiting new ambassadors, developing opportunities to further the experiences and professional development of current state ambassadors, and communicating regularly with the Best Buddies International Deputy Director, Ambassadors.
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. Please note, individuals states are responsible for selecting and supporting individuals to attend the conference from their region.
Below are resources for ambassador trainings. If you are a volunteer and interested in hosting an ambassador training, please refer to the Train the Trainer section below to get started.
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!