• October 11Contact: [email protected]

Be a Best Buddy – It is the Best

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Walk around the halls of John Overton High School and one will see students reppin’ Best Buddies wear and but ever wonder exactly “what is a ‘Best Buddy’?

Best Buddies Citizens matches people with IDD in one-to-one friendships with individuals in the corporate and civic communities. Friends and family are the foundation that help human beings become successful.

Without love, support, and friends, our lives would be empty – a life people with IDD (Intellectual and developmental disabilities) have been forced to live throughout history. Since 1993, volunteers are changing lives by simply sharing their time with a new friend.

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global counter movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with Intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Reading what its about doesn’t really give the organization justice. You’ll have to actually experience it to realize how amazing it is and how much it impacts ours and their lives. We’ve asked a few people that are in the club about what best buddies means to them, why they joined, and what are some benefits.

Mrs. Keeton (Sponsor):

Mrs. Keeton, the Best Buddies of Overton sponsor is excited about a new year of activities. One of the reasons she agreed to be the sponsor is, “Best buddies mission puts everybody on a equal playing field and allows students that in a particular path at Overton to not be excluded from activities. It helps all students feel like they’re apart of the community.”

When we asked her why she joined Best Buddies she explained, “I joined because the kids that are in our high school life skills class, I knew them when they were in the elementary life skill classes. I wanted to continue the bond that we shared.”

“The benefits in life skill classes, really do show unconditional love. Thats the biggest benefit is when you deal with those kids, it doesn’t matter what kind of day you had, they always make it better. It gives the students (general education) a chance to see how good they have it and to help other people and to make someone else feel loved and involved and apart.”

Mr.O’Brien (Life skills teacher):

Mr. O’Brien has been a teacher at Overton with the Life Skills students for 5 years. he is very passionate about their education and makes sure that they to a variety of activities that have them work with all the students in the building. Mr. O’Brien has brought an attitude of celebration.

That’s social interaction that they don’t get here at school. The benefits of being in best buddies is, not only do you get to form a unique relationship”

— Mr. O'Brien, Life Skill's Teacher

He describes the program as a a “ very unique program that gives a chance for children with special needs to paired with regular ed students here at Overton High School and be more accepted in the community. It means a lot to me because I get to see my students involve more in the community and having more regular peers. Which means they get an opportunity to get to do things that they normally don’t get to do.”

Why does Mr. O’Brien support Best Buddies even though it most definitely means work after school? “I got involve because its a great chance for my kids to be better part of the school and see more and do more. Buddies pair off with them and they get to hang and do things over the weekend. That’s social interaction that they don’t get here at school. The benefits of being in best buddies is, not only do you get to form a unique relationship, it also looks good on a college application. We have officers that work very diligently that work hard to make sure that there are parties and activities for our students to be apart of.”

Areen Mohahmad- Ali (President): 

Every Best Buddy Chapter organization has a structure of elected officials. This is done so that activities that are important to the program continue every year, and each elected official can train the new leadership for the next year.

This year’s president is Areen Mohammad-Ali. She is a champion for these students. “Best buddies is a chance for general education students to get together with mentally disabled children and get them active in school activities. You get to have fun and hang out and learn about one another.”

I enjoy learning how to communicate with others and learning mental benefits.”

— Areen - Best Buddy President

“Best Buddies means everything to me,” Areen explained before the Best Buddy ballgame. “I joined 3 years ago and i wish that I would have known about it all four years. Its gotten me very close to every single buddy. Its very nice. Katie Harton (former president), she told me about this club and asked me if I wanted to join and I was was like “sure, why not?” I joined and I really liked it. Some benefits are you could meet new people, build new friendships, come out, hang out, have fun, learn new things. I enjoy learning how to communicate with others and learning mental benefits.”

Olivia King (Vice President):”

As a peer tutor Olivia King works with Life Skill students during the day and on the field as a manager for the football team. “Best buddies is being friends and making people feel involved and like they belong. It’s going out of your way to be friends with someone and making them feel important.”

Best Buddy

How did she hear about the organization? “I heard about the organization my freshman year and it seemed like a good opportunity to meet people and be involved and also to make a difference in someone’s life. I joined because it seemed like a lot of fun and I felt like a lot of good would come from it.”

Its an opportunity to educate myself and others about the importance of creating a relationship with a buddy or buddies”

— Arlette Arcala

Matthew Murrel (Future President):

Mathew Murrel is the President Elect and is in training for becoming the future president of the Overton Chapter of Best Buddies. He is still learning much about the organization, but knows that the “organization benefits everyone and being in best buddies you have an awesome time, you get to see happiness in peoples faces.”

Others, while finding out about this article had to chime in their love for these students and the program.  We, at the Beat believe in the program so much we decided to include their thoughts too.

How can you support Best Buddies? Join! Buy a shirt! Come to an Event!

Still not sure? Read further.

Mirna Basta (Member since 2013):

“To me best buddies is an opportunity for kids our age to actually have people who care and just want the best for them by creating a friendship. Best buddies is like giving back to the people who never ask for anything.”

“I wanted to join because I was always that person who was scared to talk to them lol so I was like might as join and benefit from this.”

Arlette Alcala(Member since 2014): 

“Its an opportunity to educate myself and others about the importance of creating a relationship with a buddy or buddies.”

“I got involved because I have a cousin with special needs and I felt that i need to be not just part of his life but others as well. I wish I had joined earlier.”

“The feeling of making them smile when they see you at events or in the hallways. The appreciation that comes from their parents and overall just brightening their day.”

Saad Sadozai(Member since 2014):

“Its a place that makes me happy, because all the best buddies are the realest people in the world.”

“I always wanted to work with the special kids but never found a way that I can, so best buddies is the best way to spend time with them”

“I never thought about the benefits I just work with them because It makes me happy and making them happy is one of the best feeling I get. “

Vadar Galnasky (Member since 2015):

“Well Best Buddies is a way for me to connect with the kids that I already tutor and specifically with my best buddy, Luis, which is a very enthusiastic kid that I try to bond with everyday. It’s a completely different experience from anything I’ve ever done so you can say that I mostly like the uniqueness.”

“I wanted to join Best Buddies because I wanted to meet new people and because I wanted to learn more about the special education department community.”

“There are many benefits but my favorite benefit is the fact that our best buddies benefit from it, because that’s the ultimate goal, for them to be happy and accomplishing that is enough to make me feel like I have done a good job.”


Now that you’ve heard some of the responses from of the club members, doesn’t it sound fun? The main benefit from this organization is starting new friendships and having an impact of the buddies life. Sign up to be a member and experience all the positive outcomes.


Best Buddies Long Sleeve Shirts for sale

Please contact Areen ASAP at (615) 918- 9283 if interested. All proceeds goes towards Best Buddies.

Cost: $15

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Be a Best Buddy – It is the Best