March 25 marked the 25th year of Best Buddies International. To celebrate, Best Buddies Manila celebrated with our very first meet-up at Cupcakes by Sonja at Shangri-La.
We spent a few months before the event planning and arranging the venue. Cupcakes by Sonja was so excited to do the activity with us and we were just as excited too. I attended a cupcake decorating session with David and Dan once and it was just so fun and wonderful. The staff at Cupcakes by Sonja were also very endearing towards the participants and very gracious. Sonja hosted the activity and she was very encouraging of the buddies. Sonja is so good natured, she even bought Best Buddies shirts for her staff!
We had a great turnout and had a good number of buddy pairs. It was beautiful to see these kids working together and having fun. This may seem such a normal thing to do for typical teens and their families but this means so much to those who have children who have special needs. Friendships like this offer a chance for kids with developmental disabilities to socialize and to form bonds outside of their family and community. For the “typical” kids, this provides them with wonderful opportunities to form friendships that are outside of their usual circle of friends. They will learn that true friendship is unconditional and that there is so much to learn and appreciate by being with those who are”different” from them. Personally, I believe that spending time as buddies will open up these kids to so many learning and enriching experiences.
It was just one day but I truly hope that all the kids left the activity not just with bigger smiles but with richer hearts. I invited several kids from DSAPI and their parents were really so happy that their kids got to join. My favorite is Clara. She was so popular at the event that some of the UST students who came to the celebration had pics taken with her. Best of all, her mom left her at the event and came back after. Clara was so independent and she bonded with her buddy right away. She was hugging everyone and was such a bright spark of energy. I looked at her and saw a possible future for Noah. I loved that after the event, Clara started calling her mom on her cellphone and when I asked her if she was able to call her mama, she replied “cannot be reached eh” and she just kept dialing. She had to put her phone down a couple of times though because everyone kept asking for a pic with her. Iba na ang sikat!!
We had such a good group of buddies from International School of Manila and UST. The Best Buddies chapters have not been formalized yet but it’s good to see these kids already signing up for their own chapters.
It was heartwarming to see their smiles and for the staff of Cupcakes by Sonja thanking us for allowing them to be part of such an event. I really do believe that people are willing to reach out, there just needs to be a way for them to do so.
What’s the true goal of Best Buddies? It’s to provide that avenue, that opportunity for kids both with and without learning disabilities to reach out to each other. My goal of being part of Best Buddies? It’s so that when Noah grows up the world will be so much more accepting of him and that his being different will not be taken against him but instead it will be one more reason to love him.
If you want to learn more about Best Buddies Manila, like our page here. You can leave a private message at the page and one of the admins will respond to you.
Thank you Cupcakes by Sonja for the wonderful afternoon. Thank you to the kids of ISM and UST and most especially to the wonderful kids and their families who allowed us to be part of their day. See you all soon!