St. Mary’s Best Buddies Program promotes student leadership
The 29th Annual Father Patrick Fogarty Awards Dinner was held on Saturday October 20th, 2012 at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel. St. Mary Catholic Secondary School was recognized with the Michael Carty Award for 2012 for its work with the Best Buddies Program. St. Mary was one of only eight Catholic schools in the entire province to receive this prestigious award.
Best Buddies – Vrais Copains Canada is a national charitable organization dedicated to enhancing communities through one-to-one friendships between students and students with intellectual disabilities. Best Buddies is grounded in the belief that friendship is important to the development of all students and that for all individuals with intellectual disabilities, friendship is a medium through which they can become a part of their communities.
This program gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to have experiences which most people take for granted – going for coffee or to a movie, or simply enjoying the company of a good friend. To this end, Best Buddies establishes chapters at high schools, universities and colleges across the country. Within each chapter, students are matched with people with intellectual disabilities who share similar interests. The Best Buddies program allows student volunteers to contribute to the community and promote a sense of belonging. A positive volunteering experience may foster a life-long commitment to volunteering and community service.
At St. Mary Catholic Secondary School, the teacher-mentor for Best Buddies is Karin McLaughlin, a tireless advocate for students with learning needs. Through Karin’s efforts and those of dedicated and conscientious students such as Sarah Ippolito and Brock Dowhaniuk (pictured), St. Mary’s Best Buddies experienced a very successful year in 2011-2012 and held numerous events that matched students, created friendships and strengthened bonds between students. As well, social interaction with people with intellectual disabilities can dramatically change attitudes and help students understand and appreciate the diversity of people and talents within the community. The Best Buddies Program at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School is thriving and will continue to grow and assist students with intellectual needs become more immersed in the life blood of their school and community.
“We are grateful for the efforts of Karin McLaughlin for her vision and commitment,” commends St. Mary Principal, Emidio Piccioni. “We also are indebted to the student leaders of Best Buddies – St. Mary last year, in particular, Sarah Ippolito and Brock Dowhaniuk for their advocacy and dedication towards students with intellectual challenges.”
Brock Dowhaniuk was also recognized at the Father Patrick Fogarty Dinner as the winner of the Catholic Student Award for St. Mary Catholic Secondary School.Visit - The Buzz Board