Message from our State Director
In 2016, Best Buddies Indiana focused on maintaining existing programs, expanding into new communities and schools and maintaining solid financial growth.
We had many accomplishments, including opening a Best Buddies Jobs program in Indianapolis with very generous financial support from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. The Jobs program will focus on placing adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in integrated jobs. We hired our first staff member to oversee the program in the fall of 2016 and look forward to adding another staff member in 2017.
We also opened new school-based Friendship programs at Noblesville West Middle School and Tri-West High School. We now have a total of 88 school chapters participating in our Friendship program. We also partnered with the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities and the Close Up Foundation to send six buddy pairs to Washington DC for a five-night full immersion experience in American history and politics.
On April 24th we had our largest Best Buddies Friendship Walk in the state’s history with more than 2,000 participants walking or running for friendship and inclusion along the White River State Park Canal. The event raised more than $140,000 in support of the Best Buddies mission.
We also had more than 100 Indiana participants with and without IDD attended the annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference at Indiana University in July.
Our Best Buddies Citizens program celebrated its third year of operation and ended the year with 38 one-to-one friendships and more than 130 total participants. We also opened our first corporate Citizens chapter at Anthem in Indianapolis.
Annual events which brought participants from all programs together included: Page Day, the Friendship Ball, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day, a community service project to support Gear Going Global, two local leadership training days and two Ambassador trainings.
Building off of all of the successes of 2016, we have many goals for 2017. We will open two additional corporate Best Buddies Citizens chapters while also maintaining consistent, quality chapters within our Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and College programs. We will place adults with IDD in quality jobs in the Indianapolis area. We will also form partnerships with new individuals and corporations to allow for the continued growth of Best Buddies Indiana.
All of our accomplishments would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our staff, board, committee members, program participants, volunteers and donors. Thank you all for your commitment to our mission of friendship and inclusion for individuals with and without IDD. We look forward to continuing to work with you in the coming year!