The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Best Buddies promotes tolerance, friendship

When she opens her eyes in the morning, she is a common student; by the time she closes them for the night, she has made a difference in another person’s life.

Best Buddies, a non-profit organization with the goal to better the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, meets for the first time this semester at 6 p.m.

“It’s just a simple club making a difference,” Marlyn Hermosillo, Best Buddies president, said.

The club’s goal is to pair college students with special needs students and create a one-to-one friendship.

“Sometimes, people with intellectual disabilities don’t have the ability to create intimate friendships. We pair them with college students for that reason,” Erika Wolfe, program director, said.

Intellectual disabilities, are described as having difficulties in learning at the average rate and applying the skills needed to function daily.

“These people are able to make friends by looking beyond the disabilities. It promotes friendship and that’s one of the most important things in life,” Wolfe said.

The Best Buddies program was founded in 1989 and is internationally known among middle schools, high schools, and college campuses. The club is new to EC, having been formed three years ago.

Minerva Merchan, treasurer, said the program is designed to fit around its member’s schedules.

“(The club) is open to everyone. We make it easy for people to join,” Merchan said.

Club members are required to talk with their buddy at least once a week and participate in an outing once a month.

“We don’t want people to feel obligated. Most people say ‘I can’t keep up with it, I don’t have time, I don’t have a car, or I don’t have money to go out.’ That shouldn’t be an issue,” Merchan said.

The group performs fundraisers that help pay most of the cost for the outings.

“As a group, we will do outings like go to the movies. I really want to do that this semester, if possible, but we can’t do big activities because we are so small,” Hermosillo said.

New members are always welcome to join; there are 20 to 30 students with special needs who are without a buddy.

“As a college person, it is self-rewarding. The buddies really appreciate it,” Hermosillo said.

“(Students and buddies) work on their social skills at the same time; both people are learning new things as you go,” Hermosillo said.

For more information on becoming a best buddy, students may contact Erika Wolfe at (310) 253-5470 or e-mail Hermosillo at [email protected].

“Going out with (buddies) is nothing out of the ordinary. They’re just normal people,” Hermosillo said.

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