By Ana Ruiz Brictson | Staff Writer
Tulsa, Okla., junior Natalie Stitt and Roswell, N.M., junior Taylor Gillian — the president and vice president of Baylor Best Buddies, respectively — share what their club is about and how impactful it can be for those who join.
Baylor Best Buddies is an international organization that partners with the local disability community. The club allows students to be paired with people who have disabilities.
Students can count on being paired with adults who have graduated from high school. Those who are not prepared to take on a one-on-one responsibility with a buddy can choose to attend the parties the club organizes for the community.
Because the COVID-19 outbreak continued to spike throughout 2020, Baylor Best Buddies had decided it would be best to hold meetings on Zoom rather than in person.
Gillian said she had not gotten the opportunity to go to any in-person meetings yet, but she did get to meet with her buddy via FaceTime occasionally.
“We’re following the Special Olympics, and we’re seeing what other groups are doing,” Gillian said. “Even though we’re eager to be in person, we also want to be safe.”
Stitt said she hopes to be back in person this year after a long year of meeting on Zoom.
“In the past, there was a church downtown that let us use [its] basement,” Stitt said. “This year, I think we’re going to do a lot of stuff at Cameron Park, just to be outside and be able to social distance if we need to.”
One of the main things the Baylor Best Buddies team is prioritizing is safety. Stitt said most of the challenges the team faced last year were caused by the loss of connection and community due to going virtual.
“I know [as a part of] the executive team, we’re trying to find a balance where we can be together but do it safely — mask if we need to, be outside if we need to,” Stitt said.
The usual group activities include meeting once a month for a party between club members and the local disability community. Those who have buddies are expected to talk to and be there for their friends, as inclusivity is one of the most important aspects of the club.
Gillian said students who are looking for a home or have not found a club in which they fit in should check out Baylor Best Buddies.
“It’s honestly such an inclusive environment,” Gillian said. “Whenever you go, you feel safe and at home. Everyone is very outgoing and personable. It’s a great way to make friends.”