(Photo courtesy of Maggie Campion)
Last week, the Best Buddies Friendship walk took place at the National Mall in D.C. Attracting thousands of people, the Friendship Walk is an event that provides a great opportunity for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to spend time with others and make new friends.
“Best Buddies is an International Club and movement to promote equity and inclusiveness for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said senior Maggie Campion, president of McLean’s Best Buddies Club.
One way that Best Buddies International promotes equity is through programs such as the Friendship Walk. The Friendship Walk creates a friendly environment for people with IDD to interact with others, have fun and make long-lasting friendships with their peers.
“What’s important [about the Friendship Walk] is that a lot of students would make friends with their buddies and get to know them a lot better,” said junior Abby Criswell, who is a buddy at McLean. “And whenever I see my best buddies in the halls, at schools or at the Best Buddy [programs], I feel happy and excited. I feel like a part of the community.”
This year, Criswell made the opening speech at the Friendship Walk. She spoke about the Best Buddies Club, making new friends and got everyone hyped for the walk.
“I think the way I made my speech was very impacting and it’s very nice to walk together because you get to see all your friends and all the other best buddies,” Criswell said.
With her words, Criswell’s speech touched everyone’s hearts.
“She said that being in Best Buddies makes her feel happy. And now, it just made me so happy that she appreciates the work that we do and how much time we put into it,” Campion said.
At the end of the day, the Best Buddies Friendship Walk has many benefits. This year, McLean’s Best Buddies Club successfully raised $11,361 for the Friendship Walk. This is a step towards opening more chapters of Best Buddies around Virginia which allows more students to have a chance to participate in Best Buddy programs like the Friendship Walk and have an enjoyable experience.
“That’s why we were there. We were not there to write it on our college apps, we were not there to do anything else, but to make everyone else happy,” Campion said.
The Friendship Walk was a great event that made everyone feel content and welcomed. This is a huge step towards bringing equity with students with IDD.
“I’m hoping that we’ll do the walk again and I’m looking forward to wherever it may be in future,” Criswell said.