I’ve always asked Dan if he ever thought about what our life would be like if Noah didn’t have a disability. And I ask that question because Noah’s extra chromosome has led us to organizations and most especially to inspiring people who we might not have otherwise joined and met if not for our little boy.
I can say that I know a lot of amazing people. That circle has certainly widened because of blogging. But now it’s just blown out of proportion and Dan and I are just in awe of the trajectory our lives have taken. Anj is one of those whose online friendships have turned into a wonderful offline collaboration.
Anj blogs at MomonaMission where she writes about motherhood and raising a child with special needs. Zo, her unico hijo has Asperger’s. That journey was fraught with a lot of doctors visits in the hopes of finding out Zo’s diagnosis. A diagnosis breaks you down because you finally have a name for what is affecting your child but it is also the best chance of starting over. A diagnosis provides clarity and most importantly, hope.
We bonded over our kids online and it was an FB message one evening where I found myself saying YES to a wonderful opportunity to create a community that will be more kind, welcoming and understanding to children like Noah and Zo.
That Facebook PM was the beginning of Best Buddies Manila but even before that Anj already set the wheels in motion even before Dan and I met her for Best Buddies.
Why We Said Yes
I went to the website of Best Buddies to find out more about the org. I was already saying yes to to a lot of things about Best Buddies. It was a dream organization. It’s goals and ideals are so aligned with me and my family’s. But this was the clincher:
Awareness is one thing, inclusion to me is Awareness + Action. It is one thing for people to know about Down Syndrome or Autism or Asperger’s or Cerebral Palsy. It is an entirely different thing to act on that awareness.
Best Buddies provides that opportunity.
The mission of Best Buddies is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Friends!! Because kids with special needs have to have fun relationships outside of their own families and communities. It’s seemingly simple that friends should come naturally but not for us in this community. There is a wall between the “haves” and the “have nots” and the hesitation of the latter is because there are just no opportunities for them to know about our kids. I admit, I didn’t know anything about Asperger’s save for what I’ve read until I met Anj. I wouldn’t know how to approach Zo but now I can’t wait to meet him.
Our hope is that these personal connections will inspire others to reach out to children like our Zo and Noah. That we can have a community that will genuinely include and care for our children. The finish line is inclusion. And we are just at the start of our marathon.
And I hope that you join me, Dan, Anj, Noah and Zo and our other fellow parents during the Best Buddies Open House. We will be hosting an Open House on Febuary 16, 2014 from 2-5 pm. Diana Rihl, the Deputy Director of Best Buddies International will be at the event to talk to anyone who wants to learn more about Best Buddies.
A Best Buddies ambassador will also talk at the Open House.
Best Buddies Ambassadors are the kids themselves. They will testify on their stories of friendships and they will receive training and coaching as well. Becky of Glee, who is Lauren Potter in real life, is a Best Buddies ambassador. At the Open House, a student from One World Philippines will talk about friendship. Diana and Anj will be working with her like a true blue ambassador.
For sure I will cry 😛
It will be so awesome to meet people who share our vision of a community that embraces all children.
That thing I said earlier about how my circle of amazing people has grown over the past years? I have a feeling it will just explode at the Open House. See you there amazing people!!