LMS Best Buddies program named Most Outstanding in Ohio
The Loveland City School District congratulates Loveland Middle School (LMS) Best Buddies, the Ohio Outstanding Best Buddies Chapter of the Year. LMS Best Buddies is a chapter of an international organization focused on promoting one-to-one friendships between students who might not meet under ordinary circumstances.
"Loveland Middle School has been one of our most dedicated chapters in the state,” said Emily Reed, program manager for Best Buddies Ohio. “The involvement from the students is exactly what we hope for in all of our chapters. From planning inclusive activities to encouraging their high school staff to start a chapter, LMS Best Buddies is clearly working hard to promote the message of inclusion throughout the community!"
Founded at LMS in 2014, Best Buddies focuses on the establishment of one-to-one friendships between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Buddies are paired according to similar interests and enjoy a monthly meeting at LMS to get to know one another and share in the fun of crafts and games. They communicate regularly, both inside and outside school, scheduling outings to bowl, play video games, or meet for ice cream.
“Our son, Zac, really enjoys the program and the time he gets to spend with his Best Buddies,” said Michele Huff. “What a wonderful way to build friendships between students with and without disabilities. I love the fun, respectful, inclusive environment that the LMS teachers and leaders have created and the feeling of acceptance of all students.”
Best Buddies is advised by Rachael Angel and Jenn Ramage, teachers at Loveland Middle School.
"I know I can speak for both of us when I commend the members of our chapter,” said Ramage. “They truly deserve this recognition for their compassion, empathy, and dedication to ensuring all students to have a best buddy."
“We could not do the wonderful activities with our chapter members without Beth Blumberg, Kathy Bruening, and Megan Quisno!” added Angel. “They are instrumental in helping us prepare for meetings. Parent volunteers, especially Candice Paolino, have also made a positive impact on the program.”
Josh Albin was a member of Best Buddies for two years, and the friendships he made have transcended the walls of LMS.
“Best Buddies is a manifestation of the heart of our community. They offer acceptance, inclusion, and compassion – things each of us crave. They have so effectively spurred my young son on,” said his mother, Ann Albin.
Lee Ann Conroy echoed Albin’s sentiments, “Our son, Mark, feels loved and appreciated for who he is. I like that so many students feel comfortable interacting with my son, even outside of school. At the Homecoming Parade, it was heartwarming to hear, ‘Hi, Mark!’ from SO many of his Best Buddies friends who were in the parade. He was bombarded with candy that day!”
“Best Buddies is the BEST extra-curricular activity in town!” said Michelle Sovik. Her daughter, Jordan, is a freshman at LHS and was involved in Best Buddies during her years at LMS. “In an age of cyber-bullying, ‘fake friends,’ teenage pressures of dating, drinking, and drug use, Best Buddies encourages our tweens and teens to just be themselves. Honest and kind people without all the daily pressures. Best Buddies friends are the most accepting people around. I’m certain the neurotypical kids get as much from the program as students with unique needs. Jordan loved her experiences, and my seventh grader, Hailey, is incredibly excited for the first meeting of the year.”
If you are interested in Best Buddies adventures, follow @Ramage_LMS on Twitter. If your child is interested in joining, please email Jenn Ramage at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Photo caption: Billy Jones and Connor Muehlenkamp work together during a Best Buddies meeting in the Loveland Middle School Media Center.