Meet Jenna and Kelsey
Why did you join Best Buddies?
Kelsey: “Inclusion has always been a major part of my life. From a young age, I was exposed to an environment and lifestyle that taught me to love everyone. I was a part of an inclusive gymnastics class offered by Deveau’s School of Gymnastics, and I remained in the class for years. That class was where I first started making friends, aside from abilities and disabilities. I know a big turning point in my life was when I was first exposed to the public school systems. I was homeschooled from k-6th grade, and I entered public school as a 7th grader because I knew it was the right decision for me. I learned pretty quickly that not everyone had been raised on the same principles I had, and I was shocked to see that not all people in my school believed in the same inclusion. I did not join Best Buddies in 7th grade, but only because I was new to the school and didn’t understand what it was. In 8th grade, I was lucky enough to be selected as a peer tutor and also jumped on the opportunity to be a part of Best Buddies. I joined the program because I knew it was filled with friendly faces, but also because I knew it was a program I could remain in, making friendships, throughout high school”.
Jenna: “I joined Best Buddies because my resource teacher recommended it and I wanted to see what it was like to be there”.
What is your favorite part about Best Buddies?
Kelsey: “Personally I think the best thing about Best Buddies is the environment that comes with being a part of it. Every Best Buddies event that I’ve been to has made me feel at home. All of the people there become your family, and it’s the best feeling ever. For example, although I do not mind public speaking, I still get nervous to speak in front of a full room, which is what I did at our banquet. Jenna was able to come up with me, and I felt like I could have spoken for hours. With her by my side, and a room full of people that I know loved each other and me, I couldn’t have felt more comfortable. I want everyone to experience that sense of peace in their own lives. I have been a part of so many teams and so many groups in my life, but I have never felt as comfortable as I do with everyone else in the program. Best Buddies has an unspoken, universal code of love and acceptance, and it is by far the best thing to be taken from the program”.
Jenna: “My favorite part of Best Buddies is when I met Kelsey for the first time. I finally have a friend I can relate to”.
Is there anything you’re doing now that you did not do before joining Best Buddies?
Kelsey: “One thing I am doing much more now that I did not do before Best Buddies is meeting new people. I like making new friends, but it isn’t always the easiest task. I love being in Best Buddies because it seems that each event offers a new opportunity to talk to a friendly face. I now talk to so many people in the program daily, and I love that feeling”.
Jenna: “I had a lot of time on my hands before joining best buddies, but now I don’t which is good and it prevents me from misbehaving”.
Do you think everyone should have a buddy and why?
Kelsey: “I absolutely think everyone should have a buddy. Having a buddy has truly changed how I look at life. I have had many different friends throughout my life, and some became my best friends while others grew apart. Having a buddy is different. A buddy is someone coming from a program of love that can and most likely will become your best friend, whereas a friend is someone that you enjoy spending time with. I strongly believe that everyone should have a buddy. It truly is a step up from any friendship, because a buddy is also a friend. I have personally been matched twice through Best Buddies, and both times have been filled with love. Jackson Green was my first match as an 8th grader, and he and I learned a lot from each other. My favorite thing to be taken from our friendship is that there is always time for ice cream:). He was a very different type of friend for me, normally my friends and I just hung out and talked, but with him, I felt like each time we were together it was an adventure. We texted quite a bit, and still do, but whenever we hung out we would have a blast. I think that everyone should have that in their life. Especially if they’re lucky enough to meet someone like Jenna. Jenna was my second match with Best Buddies, and we were paired my freshman and her junior year. She is truly the best person I have met in my life. Every day I remind myself how lucky I am to be her friend. She has been there for me in ways my other friends aren’t capable of, and she has a way with words that will fix any situation. I want everyone to have a Jenna in their life”.
Jenna: “I think everyone should have a buddy because no one wants to be lonely in their lives. Even if they have a disability”.
Why is having a friend important to you?
Kelsey: “I believe that having a friend is the key to life. A friend is someone beyond your direct family that is there for you whenever you’re in need. They are there to laugh, listen, cry, and comfort you at all costs. Life is hard. Many things happen that people will go through, and not all are easy to accept on your own, which is why having someone there for you is such an important key in living your best life”.
Jenna: “Having a friend is very important to me to have a conversation with someone who is my age and later spend a lot of time together after they first meet”.