Manhattan College Welcomes Best Buddies

By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Production Editor/Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor

Manhattan College is welcoming the brand new Best Buddies Club this spring semester. Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to creating one-to-one relationships for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). 

The club was chosen to be brought to MC by three freshmen, Daniella DePrizio, Lauren Rosenberg and Liana Pullara. 

While looking at clubs and organizations on they saw Best Buddies on the list of clubs which caught their interest, however the three of them found that the club was no longer active. 

After doing some research DePrizio and Rosenberg discovered the college has never officially partnered with Best Buddies and weren’t allowed to use the name, so they decided to take it in their own hands to bring Best Buddies to MC with their faculty advisor Br. Augustine Nicoletti.

Best Buddies has been in development since November, with many meetings with student engagement and the Best Buddies organization. The club aims to form friendships and connections with students at MC, and people with intellectual disabilities. The goal is to host events, and have one on one partners to help facilitate that friendship. 

DePrizio and Rosenberg explained that there is a lack of inclusion for people with disabilities on the campus and expressed that inclusivity is a very important subject that needs to be emphasized. They believe that Best Buddies can help bring straightforward attention and help rehabilitate the campus and spread awareness. 

DePrizio shares that it is important for people to understand the message of Best Buddies and walk away with the understanding of the importance of the club. She explained that the club is unique and has an important role to play.

“Specifically for the people who have IDD, I feel like [the club] could be so valuable to them, it would build confidence and self esteem and things like that, that really, in a lot of cases kind of get overlooked and they really are put down a lot more than being lifted up,” DePrizio said. “I feel like having these one-on-one friendships could help lift them up and let them know like, ‘Hey, you have a friend’ and I honestly feel like that’s kind of what I want them to walk away with.”

Pullara stated in an email that she is looking forward to the launch of MC’s Best Buddies program and is excited for the coming years of the club.

“We are looking to create a fun safe space where fun activities can take place and where people can come together to help those in need and create long-lasting friendships,” Pullara said. “I hope that through our next four years, we can get the club up and running permanently and hopefully pass it on in the future. I’m excited to start planning events for best buddies and meet some new members of the community.”

All three founders are passionate about bringing the club to MC, for their own reasons. 

DePrizio has a cousin who has a developmental disability, and she wanted to branch out and see what her cousin would have needed and what could have been helpful to her cousin on campus. Rosenberg helped out with the special olympics at her high school and wanted to bring those experiences she learned to the club. 

Pullara chose to be a part of best buddies because she wants to be a special education teacher and she believes  that it is important to have experience with students with disabilities as well as being helpful to the community. 

Rosenberg gives reasons on why students should join. She believes it could help boost morale and spread positivity around campus.

“I think it’s a good thing for people to walk through to help people but also for people to get involved in different ways,” Rosenberg said. “And like I said, I participated in something similar in high school, and I really enjoyed it and I made good friends there. So if I could do that again in college and involve new and more people, I think it would be great.”

Best Buddies will be having their debut event, Cards and Cookies, in partnership with the Emerging Leaders program from the Multicultural center, on April 3, Kelly 5C at 6 pm. Follow Best Buddies on Instagram @mc.bestbuddies.