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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggie Best Buddies fosters inclusion through friendship

Ashley+Odom+smiles+with+her+buddy%2C+Morgan%2C+at+the+annual+barbecue+with+Delta+Tau+Delta.
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Ashley Odom smiles with her buddy, Morgan, at the annual barbecue with Delta Tau Delta.

Texas A&M’s Best Buddies program promotes an atmosphere of inclusion by creating lasting friendships between college students and community members living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Founded in 1989, Best Buddies International is America’s first national social and recreational program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD. Texas A&M’s chapter began in 1993 and is one out of 1,500 chapters worldwide. For those with IDDs, the program creates an opportunity for friendship, leadership development, integrated employment and inclusive living.
Biology senior and chapter President Billie Nguyen said their chapter emphasizes building relationships with those in the community.
“Here at Texas A&M, we focus mainly on providing one-to-one friendships between college students and adults in the [Bryan-College Station] area, along with spreading the message of inclusion,” Nguyen said. “We hold monthly events, varying from holiday events, outdoor activities and sometimes, we partner with other organizations to spread awareness.”
According to their website, Aggie Best Buddies remains active despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with safety guidelines in place to protect both Aggies and their buddies.
“Best Buddies is still accepting new members and will be pairing peer buddies with buddies, but it will be up to the peer buddies themselves whether or not they want to meet in person with their buddy while following proper social distancing guidelines,” the website reads. “Otherwise, peer buddies will be expected to maintain communication with their buddy via cell phone or computer.”
The first step to becoming involved in Best Buddies, Nguyen said, is to fill out an application online.
“Once students apply to be a member of Best Buddies, we hold interviews, asking them questions to get to know them better and what they like to do,” Nguyen said. “Then, we compare the interests of both students and adults, matching those with aligning interests.”
Nguyen said the adults paired with Aggies from the organization are from all over Bryan-College Station.
“Some of them are from the Aggie ACHIEVE and PATHS programs, and others are from host sites in the area,” Nguyen said.
Human resource development senior and chapter Vice President Katie Christman said her buddy, Miguel, has become an important part of her life.
“Kind, fun-loving and authentic are just three of a thousand adjectives I could use to describe Miguel,” Christman said. “He shows me what true friendship is.”
In addition to her own buddy, Christman said she has also seen many close friendships develop through Best Buddies.
“These relationships are beneficial for both parties involved because they both are able to make deep, long-lasting connections with each other,” Christman said.
For adults with IDDs, Christman said continuous communication is important because they are often excluded from society.
“Providing them with a source of friendship can benefit their health and well-being by giving them meaningful social connections and fulfilling social activities.” Christman said. “For the college students, this opportunity to be paired one-on-one with an adult with IDD allows us to connect with people outside of Texas A&M in the local community and be a source of friendship to those who really need it, while spreading the message of inclusion throughout campus.”

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