Senator Flanagan And Best Buddies Bring Mentor Program To Commack

John J. Flanagan

October 30, 2006

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) joined the staff and students of the Commack Middle School to celebrate the school's participation in the Best Buddies program. This program, which will utilize a portion of a $45,000 grant secured by Senator Flanagan, will match students with intellectual disabilities with other middle school students to create one-to-one friendships between them.

Best Buddies Middle Schools is designed to improve the school environment by promoting interaction between students with developmental disabilities (Buddies) and students without disabilities (Peer Buddies). Students involved will be part of a growing movement of volunteers with and without disabilities, dedicated to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be part of school life. By becoming a Middle School Peer Buddy, volunteers offer a Buddy the chance to explore a new way of life and feel included in the high school environment.

This is a voluntary program that will allow mainstream students the opportunity to interact with a special needs student to interact and learn social skills that may not otherwise be available.

For the students who volunteer, this is a great opportunity to learn about themselves and grow. In addition to the benefit of developing new friendships, the Best Buddies middle school program also gives students unique opportunities for leadership. With the support of school faculty and Best Buddies staff, students lead and direct the chapters in their schools.

Pam Travis-Moore, Principal of the Commack Middle School is looking forward to the new chapter at the school she leads, "The Middle School is thrilled to have Senator Flanagan’s support in starting this Best Buddies Chapter to help us expand all student’s circle of friends. Best Buddies really will put students with disabilities in the social mainstream."

Senator John Flanagan (4th from right) joins (from left to right) Commack School District Trustee Deborah Guber, Susan Garafalo, Allison Schouten, Commack School Board President Mary Jo Masciello, Commack School District Superintendent Dr. James A. Feltman, Best Buddies State Director Kayle Jacoby, Commack Middle School Principal Pamela J. Travis-Moore and Lisa Schouten of Best Buddies as they announce Commack Middle School's Best Buddies chapter.

Commack Middle School is the first school to utilize the funding secured by Senator Flanagan to establish a chapter. Working with Best Buddies and the superintendent's of other schools, Senator Flanagan looks forward more chapters forming in the coming months.

"I am so proud to work on this important program and I congratulate the administration and staff of Commack for joining this mission. The ability to interact and to socialize will greatly increase the real world education of all the students involved regardless of their personal situation," said Senator Flanagan. "I have been in contact with the other school districts in my area and I am very encouraged by the high level of interest. This is a great program for all involved and I am thrilled to see it starting to come together."

Best Buddies was founded in 1989 to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. Since its inception, Best Buddies has gone from one original chapter to more than 1,300 middle school, high school, and college campuses across the country and internationally.

The organization is active in each of the 50 United States and on six continents with additional country programs under active development. Their efforts will impact more than 300,000 individuals this year.
Each chapter is a registered student organization within their school and is led by a chapter president who leads the chartered chapter of Best Buddies for one academic year.

By bringing their program to the public and private high schools, Best Buddies is helping everyone involved cross the invisible line that too often separates those with disabilities from those without. Social experiences and relationships are a part of life and this program will open the door to the social opportunities that most people enjoy.

"Best Buddies is honored to have Senator Flanagan as a partner in fulfilling our mission to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through one-to-one friendships. By securing this funding to expand Best Buddies Programs on Long Island, Senator Flanagan has created an opportunity for students with and without intellectual disabilities to discover each other through friendship, and to also truly discover themselves," stated Kayle Jacoby, Best Buddies State Director.

For more information about the Best Buddies program,PLEASE CLICK HERE.