Meet Matt & Maya
“When I found out Best Buddies was coming to Talawanda High School, I immediately knew I wanted to be involved. I had heard a lot about the program from the Miami of Ohio chapter in our town, and always hoped I would be able to participate to bring more friendships to people like my friend Matthew.
In elementary school, Matthew and I were both in the play The Jungle Book. One day at practice, the girl who was assigned to a role directly next to Matthew was noticeably frustrated because he kept tapping her shoulder to talk. I offered to switch places with her, and Matthew and I have been friends ever since. I have always been passionate about inclusion, so last year when Best Buddies made it to Talawanda, I knew I would want a greater role. Matthew and I were matched right away and have been an official pair for two years.
Our friendship has really been an example for other students at our school – whether they are in Best Buddies or not. Students see us together and immediately understand that people with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities) have what it takes to be a friend. This has made our school become a more inclusive environment, which has helped our community at large feel more inclusive, too.
I have truly loved serving as the Chapter President of Best Buddies at Talawanda High School. I love being able to interact not only with Matthew but with all students in the club with and without IDD. We started an annual inclusive dance simply because Matthew loves to dance. We played in our school’s dodgeball tournament as a group and have been able to visit Miami’s campus for some of their Best Buddies events as well.
If you asked Matthew what his experience has been like, he would tell you that he has a ton of fun with Best Buddies. His favorite events so far have been the dance mentioned earlier, and a trip we took to the Cincinnati Reds’ stadium. He loves when the two of us hang out but also feels he has made a ton of new friends just by being in the club. He also LOVES to tell me jokes when we are together.
All in all, being part of Best Buddies has been a truly great experience – for me and for Matthew. Looking back, I’m thankful for that girl who needed to trade places with someone. I gained a best friend that day.”
Best Buddies Talwanda High School