Mr. Mendelsohn is a founding advisory board member of Best Buddies Palm Beach, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Why is Best Buddies so Important?
Over the past 50 years, people with intellectual disabilities have gained many rights that have improved their lives. Yet, our society is still far from inclusive. As one study noted, “Legal mandates
cannot, however, mandate acceptance by peers, neighbors, fellow employees, employers or any of the other groups of individuals who directly impact the lives of people with disabilities.” (Teen
Attitudes Toward Individuals with Mental Retardation, 2002)
Parents and teachers of children with disabilities recognize the social isolation these children face, isolation that is well-documented by researchers. A report from 2001 noted, “Children with disabilities, particularly children with learning disabilities and mental retardation, are more vulnerable to feelings of loneliness than their peers without disabilities.” (Loneliness in Children with Disabilities; Pavri; 2001)
At the same time that researchers are proving the need children with disabilities have for more and better social contacts, they are also finding that interaction with peers with disabilities has positive impacts on those who do not have disabilities.
“Teachers, parents, and children themselves report that children without disabilities benefit from their relationships with children with disabilities, (Peck, Donaldson, & Pezzoli, 1990; Staub, Schwartz, Gallucci, & Peck, 1994).
Research suggests that children without disabilities are more accepting of children with disabilities when they have experience interacting with them (Biklen, Corrigan, & Guick, 1989).” (Friendships of Children with Disabilities, Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, September 2002)
People who do not have a disability often take for granted the ease with which they make friends, and fail to recognize the enormous importance friendship plays in achieving success in school, the workplace, and the community. Researchers have found that social skills are essential to holding a job.
To learn more, or to see how you can get involved, give us a call. You can also get some great information from the following links: