Embracing the Kindness Within: North Atlanta Now Has a Best Buddies Club


Se'Lah Robinson

Buddy Up: Juniors Juliette Holzworth, Mia Alarcon, Carly Martin, and Shalom Montgomery are all part of North Atlanta’s Best Buddies Club, forming close companions with students with IDD’s.

Buddy: Someone who is a close friend or companion. Starting a club that embraces the Best Buddies International program, juniors Shalom Montgomery and Virginia Brewer have come together to call themselves (and their dedicated members) ‘buddies.’ With such a large community at North Atlanta that strives to maintain inclusivity, it is important that we do things and make decisions that do not leave anyone out. For Warriors, the Best Buddies Club makes sure of just that.

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit organization that works to help and make opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Founded in 1989 by Anthony Shriver at Georgetown University, the organization is now a 501 that has programs all over the world. The United States, South Korea, Lebanon, and Brazil are just some of the many countries with active Best Buddies programs. These programs can have different branches, where each branch works together to give those with IDD’s a life like those without. Members of the programs are considered volunteers, and they participate in various activities with those with disabilities. One of the most compelling parts of the organization is the Best Buddies Friendship program, a program that is newly offered at North Atlanta. “This club should help create new friendships and teach students how to understand those who are different from us,” says Montgomery.

As of August 2021, North Atlanta is one of the many schools in the whole world that gives students with IDD’s a chance for social development and interaction with their peers. Advised by Ms. Rhodes, North Atlanta’s Best Buddies program met at the end of August for their first meeting, where group members went over how to identify possible developmental disabilities and how to interact with them appropriately. After, the kids with disabilities were brought to the meeting to start the matching process. This process ends with different pairs, with one part being a student with an IDD and the other part being a student without one. The pairs are chosen with careful consideration and they are based on the chemistry and engagement shown at the social event held in August.

Meetings and socials are held once every month in the multipurpose room on the first floor at 4:00. In the socials, there are various activities for buddies and IDD students to do. The most recent get together included a photo booth with props, beach volleyball, coloring, snacks, and more. “People with disabilities are people too. We never really think about how they may feel and they should be treated normally, just as those without disabilities are,” says Brewer.

As of now, many IDD affected Dubs are matched with their buddy. The club’s mission is to give North Atlanta students with disabilities a good high school experience, and make them feel as included as possible. Montgomery and Brewer seek to teach the student body the importance of a community that welcomes all, and the Best Buddies Club hopes to accomplish just that.