Reunited for Inclusion at BBLC 2023
We are thrilled to share the incredible success of the 2023 Best Buddies Leadership Conference (BBLC), which hosted over 1600 attendees at Indiana University from July 21-24. BBLC serves as a gathering for Best Buddies leaders, volunteers, and community advocates from around the world to imagine, create, lead, and empower the future of the disability rights and inclusion movement. Over the past 33 years, this conference has inspired thousands of leaders to become Best Buddies advocates and bring about positive social change in their communities.
This year’s conference theme was “Reunited for Inclusion,” as it was our first return to Indiana University since 2019. Best Buddies in California had 32 high school and college students, 2 chapter advisors, 6 Jobs program participants, 4 ambassadors, and 6 community leaders represent our programs, learn from professional presenters, engage in small group discussions, and interact with advocates from all over the world.
It was an honor to witness leaders from all walks of life coming together to learn and share their passion for the Best Buddies movement. The dedication and commitment displayed by each participant further strengthened our belief in the power of collective action.
One of the highlights of the experience was when one of our California State Ambassadors, Javier Andres, was selected to be one of the closing speakers.
Over 250 ambassadors from all over the globe attended the conference and worked on their speech writing and public speaking skills. Javier was one of six ambassadors hand-picked by Best Buddies’ executive team to present their speech during closing ceremonies in front of all 1600 BBLC attendees. While Javier had practiced his public speaking skills during his ambassador trainings, he had never spoken in front of an audience this large before. He was nervous to present, but the fear melted away once he walked on stage and could hear the crowd go wild. He was the last of the six ambassador speakers, and he completely blew everyone away – receiving a standing ovation from the entire auditorium.
“This was the first time I traveled by myself and was away from family. I was kinda nervous, but it ended up being such a great experience. Once I got to the dorms, I was welcomed and felt so supported. I had a great roommate from Arizona, and I got to make a lot of new friends over the weekend! I attended the Ambassador sessions and got to work on my speech writing, public speaking, and advocacy skills.”- Javier Andres, Best Buddies Jobs Program Participant & Ambassador from Orange County
We couldn’t be more proud of Javier’s growth, as well as the development of all of our other Best Buddies in California attendees!