On Oct. 29, the Best Buddies club held an event where all members of the club, both the general education students and the Community Based Instruction (CBI) students, partook in a promposal-themed bonding activity in which they asked their buddy pair, a student that they were matched with prior to the event, to “be their buddy.” They spent months preparing posters, scheduling proposal times and arranging the pair matches based on similar interests. This was the first year that the club did these proposals, which they affectionately named, “buddyposals.”
“For a lot of the students in CBI, their cognitive age is about third grade. That innocence that we all have when we’re young children, that joy we all have when we were children; if you’re ever having a bad day, and you just need to be reminded that life is really not so bad, go visit a CBI classroom. You don’t have to be in best buddies to visit them. It kind of puts things into perspective and brightens your day. You think, ‘Wow we really put a lot on our shoulders and take things really seriously and we don’t always have to,’” said Robin Dazzeo, the club advisor for Best Buddies.
Dazzeo got the idea for the buddyposals when she and Best Buddies Club President Senior Ty Yamamoto attended the Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Indianapolis, Ind. over the summer. Upon talking to other Best Buddies club advisors, Dazzeo heard about this idea from another advisor and was inspired because of its uniqueness and potential to fit their theme of inclusivity and bonding. “I thought it just sounded like a really neat way to introduce the school to what it is we really do. They only had six students. We had 42 buddy pairs. So it was a lot to take on but that was where I got the original idea; I was like, ‘That sounds really cool,’ and she gave me some examples of the signs that they used and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh that would be so much fun.’” said Dazzeo. Yamamoto added, “We really wanted this to be a surprise or something that was a big event. We wanted to make this official.”
The buddyposals took months of preparation and organization to execute. A huge part of the preparation process was the matching of the buddies; the students learned about their buddies so they could customize the posters based on their interests and favorite things. In this way, the proposals were more personal and the buddies could relate to each other. “When the students sign up for the club, they’re in the CBI setting or the general education setting. They do what’s called a matching survey. They’re answering questions like ‘what’s your favorite kind of music, what do you like to do in your free time, what’s your favorite way to contact your friends?’ and then we try to match them up with interests.” said Dazzeo.
Another benefit of this matching process was that it provided the buddies with familiarity so that they would be less nervous to do the promposal. Because the promposals were conducted during class time and in front of many people, Yamamoto and Dazzeo wanted to help the buddies be as comfortable as possible. “I was really surprised, I thought the CBI students would be very nervous to meet people that they may not know, hold a sign, interrupt a class, but they were so on it. I was really impressed, they were super excited. They were super excited to make their signs, the signs came out awesome,” said Dazzeo.
The theme that Dazzeo and Yamamoto are working hard to implement throughout this year is the theme of inclusivity and bonding. With the growing number of students who are taking an interest in joining Best Buddies, the promposals were a fun and effective way of ensuring that all members of the club felt included. “Best Buddies is a club, but inclusion is a practice. That’s our mission: to be inclusive. To make sure that everybody isn’t just invited but actually is a part of it. So we can say to CBI students that they’re welcome on our campus, but we make them a part of it,” said Dazzeo.
The members of Best Buddies were not the only people that were affected by this event. The teachers and students who watched these proposals happen were able to witness the hard work of the Best Buddies club and this provided great exposure for the club in terms of recruitment. “I think it was a strong kickstart to the year, I also think that the buddyposal gave the club some positive promo so that they could attract new members for the next year to keep the club going,” said Best Buddies club member Senior Kylie Nitta. “We wanted to bring the students in the club or in the CBI into the general education setting; to include them in a regular classroom; they don’t really have that chance very often. So we were hoping that that’s what we would accomplish is that other students and faculty and teachers on campus would get excited and see all the hard work and excitement that the students have prepared,” said Dazzeo.
With the huge number of members, Dazzeo had to coordinate 46 proposals, which occured in different classrooms all on the same day. Dazzeo and the rest of Best Buddies are grateful for the support that they received to make this event happen. “I think I would also like to really thank our admin and our faculty and our staff for allowing us to make it possible; to come in during class time and interrupt lessons and to be so open and excited for our students. I got to see a couple of videos and all of the students and teachers and everyone was clapping and there were a lot of awws. We have a great school community here and I really just appreciate the support to make these kinds of events happen,” said Dazzeo.
The Best Buddies club hopes to make the buddyposals an annual tradition. They also want to continue implementing their theme of inclusion throughout this school year.