July 25, 2005: Headlines: Directors - Shriver: Service: Indiana Daily Student: Anthony Shriver's 'Best Buddies' program helps adults with intellectual disabilities develop often overlooked social skills

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Founding Director Sargent Shriver: Sargent Shriver: Archived Stories: July 25, 2005: Headlines: Directors - Shriver: Service: Indiana Daily Student: Anthony Shriver's 'Best Buddies' program helps adults with intellectual disabilities develop often overlooked social skills

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Anthony Shriver's 'Best Buddies' program helps adults with intellectual disabilities develop often overlooked social skills

Anthony Shriver's 'Best Buddies' program helps adults with intellectual disabilities develop often overlooked social skills

The program, which pairs high school and college students with intellectually disabled adults in a one-on-one friendship, was founded in 1989 by Anthony Shriver, who attended Friday's opening ceremonies. Shriver founded the organization based on his experience at Georgetown University, where he realized forming companionships with adults with intellectual disabilities could help expand their social skills.

Anthony Shriver's 'Best Buddies' program helps adults with intellectual disabilities develop often overlooked social skills

Students meet 'Best Buddies' at IU event

Volunteer program hosts 16th annual conference

By Hannah Lodge | Indiana Daily Student | Monday, July 25, 2005

Anthony Shriver, founder and CEO of Best Buddies International, left, checks the score on a basketball game with Hardy Wood, center, and Kevin Carlisle.
Someone asked Anthony Shriver if he was on a tour of Best Buddies International chapters. Advocate staff photo by John H. Williams


IU played host to more than 1,200 high school and college students participating in a volunteer program this weekend for intellectually disabled adults known as Best Buddies.

Sarah Baldini, deputy director of programs for Best Buddies' Indiana state office, said the program is crucial in helping adults with intellectual disabilities develop often overlooked social skills.

"With people with disabilities, oftentimes the only relationships or social opportunities are with family members or paid staff," she said. "By giving them an opportunity to interact with someone who isn't disabled, they're learning critical skills that help them be successful so they can be contributing members of society."

The program, which pairs high school and college students with intellectually disabled adults in a one-on-one friendship, was founded in 1989 by Anthony Shriver, who attended Friday's opening ceremonies.

Shriver founded the organization based on his experience at Georgetown University, where he realized forming companionships with adults with intellectual disabilities could help expand their social skills.

Some could argue, however, that Shriver's desire to volunteer was a genetic tradition -- his mother, Eunice Shriver, co-founded the Special Olympics, and his father, Sargent Shriver, was responsible for founding the Peace Corps. Shriver's sister, Maria, is also famous for her former role as a television reporter and her current role as First Lady of California.

This weekend's event, the 16th Annual Student Leadership conference, provided interactive workshops for Best Buddies who had shown active leadership skills in their programs. The workshops focused on leadership skills, civic responsibility and volunteerism. In addition, many activities were planned to make the weekend a treat, including a fashion show led by actress Maureen McCormick, best known for her role as Marcia Brady on the Brady Bunch, and a speech from Dr. John Passarini, Disney's 2003 Teacher of the Year.

Junior Megan Smith, college buddy director for IU, said she hopes more students will become involved with Best Buddies in the next school year.

"It's very new here, the program just started in 2002 and it's really easy to get involved," she said. "Just fill out the paperwork and we match you with a buddy. You go out with your buddy twice a month and have contact once a week."

The IU program, which currently has between 25 and 30 members, does not receive funding from the University, Smith said, so the program relies on donations and fundraisers. Students are matched with an intellectually disabled adult from Stone Belt, the program's host site.

Baldini said the program also benefits the students who volunteer.

"We're giving college students the opportunity to give back to the community, but at the same time we're giving them the chance to meet a friend," she said.

The program, which operates in all 50 states as well as 14 other countries world-wide, is open to middle school, high school and college students. The program also provides the opportunity for individuals to become an "e-buddy," Baldini said.

"The e-buddies program is so innovative because we all take for granted that e-mail and text messaging is a main form of communication now e-buddies lets them be a part of that new technology and also teaches very valuable computer skills."

24-year-old Mollie Noble of Indianapolis attended the conference for her second time. Noble, who was paired up with college student Mary Ann Gerlach, said the program has benefited her in many ways.

"My favorite part is being with friends and having fun we like to joke a lot," Noble said. "I'm very happy to be here."

Gerlach said she has also benefited from Noble's friendship.

"She's always upbeat, excited and fun to be around," she said. "Her outlook on life helps me view things in a more positive way."

Students interested in participating can visit the program's Web site, www.bestbuddies.org.





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Story Source: Indiana Daily Student

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