UNB Best Buddies has been making some friends over the last seven years.
Being the longest running university chapter in New Brunswick, UNB Best Buddies is a group that matches students with people in the community that have intellectual disabilities, with the goal of building a stronger community.
“Our ‘buddies’ usually range between 20 and 50 years old,” said Jill Breen, one of the club’s co-presidents. “Our aim is to try and get people in the community more involved and develop friendships.”
By using pairs, it’s easy to form friendships and develop a relationship based on trust.
“[Working in pairs] tends to work very well with people with disabilities because they can quickly learn to trust that one person, and open up to them,” said UNB Best Buddies co-president Natasha Larivée. “We just ask for students to be a mentor, hang out with [their ‘buddy’] and give them support.”
With the semester winding down, UNB Best Buddies is planning some events for the summer to start raising funds for the upcoming year, and to raise awareness of their group. However, there is one more local event in March, happening at Chapters in the Regent Mall.
“Every year, Chapters organizes a ‘Read All About It’ event. They will open up their venue for us, where all local Best Buddies clubs and members are invited to come to talk about their experience with Best Buddies,” said Larivée.
“Some Best Buddies pairs go up and read a poem they wrote, or read something about their experience. It’s a time to celebrate success, and celebrate reading.”
Matt St. Onge, a returning “buddy” and the “Buddy Advocate” for the club, has found his time with the UNB Best Buddies club as both rewarding and a great experience.
“[Best Buddies] helps establish friendships and also give you some of the happiest times of your life. I should know, Best Buddies gave me some of the happiest times of my life,” said St. Onge.
If a student is interested in helping out their community, UNB Best Buddies hopes they consider joining them. If interested, they can be reached at: UNBbestbuddies@gmail.com.