The Mosaic Company Provides Funding for 38 Hillsborough and Pasco County Students to Attend the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference
July 21st- 24th, The Mosaic Company partnered with Best Buddies in Florida to provide scholarships for 38 Hillsborough and Pasco County students to attend the annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference (BBLC) in Bloomington, Indiana. Participants who attended represent members from Best Buddies Friendship and Leadership Development Programs throughout Tampa Bay. This partnership helped decrease barriers and increase access for youth leaders with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead and empower the future of the disability rights and inclusion movement.
Over the past 33 years, BBLC has inspired thousands of leaders to be Best Buddies advocates and to bring about social change in their communities. This conference experience offered opportunities for the youth leaders to learn from professional presenters, participate in small group peer discussions, engage with disability experts, and choose from various education sessions that informed, inspired, and advanced each attendee’s role in the disability rights movement in their local communities. Best Buddies in Florida sent a total of 188 community leaders to join the more than 2,000 individuals from around the world.
Each year at closing ceremonies, Best Buddies selects 10 participants from our ambassador track – an educational track offering training opportunities for self-determination, self-advocacy, speech writing, and presentation skills for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – to share their personal story. This year, Best Buddies in Florida was honored to have Becca from the North Florida Best Buddies office selected to share her story in front of 2,000 of her newest friends. Here is what she had to say:
“I joined Best Buddies in high school, and everything changed. I met my friend Mary Grace, and the rest is history. Or should I say I created history? My friendships through Best Buddies helped me to branch out in my school. I was the first individual with a disability to be invited to join the varsity cheerleading team – go, Sharks! I was also the first person with a disability to become a Best Buddies Chapter President in Florida. I made many great friends that I still have today, and these people are my best friends and will always be. For me, Best Buddies was the door to my truest self. I started with the hope of feeling a part of a group, but I found a family. My participation in Best Buddies has taught me how to advocate for myself and people like me throughout my community. Now I get to be a part of the revolution of inclusion. Best Buddies has not only cultivated my voice but amplified it. I am now the best version of myself because of Best Buddies. I am an advocate and a proud leader, proud to be a part of this group that is creating the space for us to become the best version of ourselves.” – Best Buddies in Florida Ambassador, Becca.