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Titusville High School's Best Buddies Club Hosts 10th Annual Spread the Word Event

On Friday, March 1st, Titusville High School (THS) was abuzz as the Titusville High School Best Buddies Club hosted their 10th Annual Spread the Word event. This year, the word to know, and spread, was inclusion, which could be seen in the embodiment of all those who attended.  From students to staff participating in games, partaking in activities, and wearing their blue Best Buddies T-Shirts, the spirit of inclusion was alive and well. Brevard Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Dr. Mark Rendell also stopped by to participate in the fun and help spread awareness.

 

Best Buddies is an international, non-profit organization with the goal of helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). There are many different chapters of Best Buddies, around the globe, with several chapters in the State of Florida, including the Central Florida Chapter that the Titusville High School club, along with several other BPS schools Best Buddies Clubs belong to.

 

The Central Florida Chapter is the 4th largest in the nation and 3rd largest in the state. At Titusville High School, Best Buddies is the biggest club on campus, with many students participating as Associate Buddies who attend events, help other students, and develop networking skills. Some students serve as Peer Buddies. A peer, or a person without intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) is matched with a buddy allowing these students to create one-on-one friendships. Together, these buddies plan and execute at least two school-based activities each month; one being a sport/school spirit activity and the other being a campus-wide activity.

 

Since it was started 10 years ago, the Spread the Word Campaign has become the biggest Best Buddies campaign nationwide, and within the Titusville High School club. Six years ago, retired teacher Mr. Coachman, came up with the idea of inviting local first responders to the event. After noticing that many students with IDD had a hard time trusting first responders, Mr. Coachman felt that there was a need to help build trust within while showing these students that first responders are safe. The event has been hugely successful and continues to grow each year.

 

Current Best Buddies Club President, senior Kayla Walsh, has been a Peer Buddy since she joined the club as a freshman, four years ago. For Kayla, while she admitted the role comes with a lot of planning, she expressed that, “the way the buddy’s get all excited and love being included, makes it all worth it.” As a freshman, Kayla was paired with Dakari Pickens, now a THS senior.  Over the last four years, the two have developed a true bond and friendship. Kayla explained that Dakari loves parties and celebrations; making it a point to always attend his birthday bash every summer. Dakari said he loves the Best Buddies program, noting that “we are a part of the school and everything happening.”

 

Many Peer Buddy’s continue to stay involved after graduation from THS and transition to their new role of alumni. Maddie Dumonteil, former THS student and President of the THS Best Buddies Club, volunteered during the event in support of the organization she has come to love. Maddie, current student at Eastern Florida State College (EFSC), is currently in the process of starting a Best Buddies Club at EFSC.  

 

Additionally, various events are planned throughout the year with the members of Best Buddies clubs and the Central Florida Chapter. The next large event, The Friendship Walk, is slated for on Saturday, April 27th. Taking place at Lake Eola in Orlando, attendees can expect numerous vendors, and games to enjoy before the walk around the lake starts, promptly at 10:00AM. All Best Buddies events are aimed at bringing awareness and support to individuals with IDD or raising funds for the organization.

 

Mrs. Coachman, current Club Sponsor, hopes to see the BPS community out in full support of the event and inspire more clubs within schools to start across the district. 

 

Posted. 3.4.24.