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Buddy Program Assists People With Disabilities

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The nonprofit Best Buddies Delaware works to link residents with people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). These one-to-one friendships help people become leaders in the movement to end social isolation for people living with IDD. The state chapter of Best Buddies, an international organization founded in 1989, opened in Wilmington in 2008 and is looking to expand in Kent and Sussex Counties, says program supervisor Anne Chaffin. Best Buddies offers a citizens program for adults, as well as a schools program that pairs students with and without IDD. The programs can be found in 19 schools as well as in workplaces throughout the state. “We’re expanding our citizens program and we’re hoping to get more into the schools,” Chaffin says. “We want anyone with IDD who wants to be in our program to at least have the opportunity.” Best Buddies Delaware is involved in a number of annual events, including this month’s Blue Gold All-Star High School Basketball Games. That event, scheduled for March 21 at UD’s Bob Carpenter Center, features games between the state’s top high school hoops players. In the past, the event has included a basketball match that features Philadelphia Eagles players and local celebrities. Such events raise funds for, as well as awareness of, Best Buddies’ mission, says Chaffin. “We don’t all have to be exactly the same to be friends with each other.” (www.bestbuddiesdelaware.org)

Shalanda Lawson (left) and Deanna Blizzard, both from Sussex County, are Best Buddies’ first match downstate in the citizens program.

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