Photo: Maia Fernandez-Baigun

More than a buddy

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“These people are all important, whether they have a disability or not” Skyler Harris, president of Best Buddies at American Heritage, said. Best Buddies, one of the eighty-five clubs found on campus, focuses on integrating people with mental and intellectual disabilities (IDD) into society, and is one of the many chapters of this organization found worldwide. While it might seem like a club merely focused on awareness, it actually has a much bigger mission.  

A dedicated and friendly organization, Best Buddies helps individuals with IDD find employment and lifelong friends. It brings sensitivity to the young people engaged as volunteers and joy to those enrolled in the Schott Adult Enrichment Program, an organization that helps Best Buddies host special events. Every other Saturday, buddies and members from Heritage’s Best Buddies club travel to the Schott community center and host a variety of different activities. Volunteers are free to play, exercise, learn, talk, dance and channel their artistic mind with students from the program.   

“With Best Buddies, we believe in everyone having an equal opportunity and really being able to be able to work in whatever field you may want to work in,” Anthony K. Shriver, founder, chairman & CEO of Best Buddies, said. This is an amazing way of integrating everyone and giving people better opportunities to do what they love.  

“It really makes you grateful for what you have because you can see the problems that other people are facing and how they are getting through them, and it really puts your life in perspective,” Harris said.

To find out how you can help make an impact in the Schott communities and helping buddies, find out more about the Best Buddies chapter at American Heritage by emailing Skyler Harris at or attending meetings every other Thursday in Mrs. Alexandra Stahlschmidt’s room (9106).

Maia is a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. Even though this is only her second year on staff, Maia loves working foe the newspaper. She also serves as Vice President of Save the Memories, participates in service projects and loves to discover new music and trendy restaurants. Maia considers herself an avid Billie Eilish fan and, in her free time, enjoys writing and taking pictures of nature. For her, a perfect day consists of sleeping in, avocado toast and binge-watching Netflix originals.

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