Above, from left; Ava Scott (7th grade), Blake Potorski (8th grade) and Hannah Casper and Ada Oancea (both seniors).
Earlier this summer, 4,000 students from 50 states and 46 countries attended the 2019 Best Buddies International Leadership Conference at Indiana University. Among them were Cole Middle School students Blake Potorski and Ava Scott and EGHS students Ada Oancea and Hannah Casper.
This year’s theme was Inclusion Lives Here. Students at the conference aimed to promote inclusion, acceptance, friendship, and respect. Best Buddies works to create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
This year, EGHS was named the 2019 Best Buddies Rhode Island High School Chapter of the Year. In both 2017 and 2018, Cole was named the Rhode Island Middle School Chapter of the Year. The middle school also earned the title of the 2018 Best Buddies International Middle School Chapter of the Year.
Hannah Casper, an EGHS student who attended the conference, said it was “the most rewarding experience.”
She added, “Seeing how the Best Buddies message has spread all across the globe makes me so excited to be able to continue to contribute to this movement.”
Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989, the organization has been known for creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living.
Cole teacher Adam Scott, advisor for the Cole Best Buddies chapter and coach of Unified Sports there, said the conference was “truly amazing.”
Scott added, “Every single student that walks into all six of our schools deserves to be valued, respected, included and accepted and with programs such as Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools, Unified Sports, Best Buddies and any other friendship club, our students are changing the world for the better.”
Aiza Shaikh, a rising junior at EGHS, is an intern for EG News.