Samantha Cook is a dedicated advocate and volunteer for Best Buddies, previously serving as Chapter President at Centre College in Kentucky, transitioning Young Leaders Council Chair, and current Best Buddies International Board of Directors member.
Put Your Advocacy Where Your Walk Is
While it may look a little bit different in this year’s climate of social distancing, I use the Best Buddies Friendship Walk as a time to reassess what this organization means to me. A large component of the work we do revolves around advocacy. The ability to advocate for yourself, your friends, and your community is at the heart of what we do here at Best Buddies. The mission we hope to spread hinges directly on the ability of our participants, staff, and communities to push for the world we hope to create. In order to make the Virtual Friendship Walk as successful as possible, I urge you to look for ways to use your voice to impact the world around you.
As an advocate for myself, an advocate for others, and an advocate for the work we do, I reflect on how I got to this point (as advocacy is not an innate skill, but a learned one). After I began having unexplainable seizures in 2014, I was thrown into a whole new world of self-advocacy, the likes of which I had never experienced before. As a sophomore in college and learning how to explain my newly developed condition to professors, administrators, and friends became much more difficult than I could have ever imagined. Thankfully, I had a wonderful support system of family and friends who helped me find my voice, but it was at this point that I realized not everyone is so fortunate. Best Buddies provides the resources for people who may not have a natural support system in place, in addition to many opportunities to practice and refine their self-advocacy skills.
I walk as an advocate. I walk for my friends with and without IDD to be able to have every opportunity they deserve. I walk so that others who come after me can walk even further. I walk for our mission of inclusion. I walk for change. Are you with me?