For the last two and a half years, Best Buddies has become a big part of Munster High School. You see it every day in the halls and at lunch. Students, who were used to being overshadowed, are now being sought out by others just to say hi or have a conversation. Students who are used to being ignored are becoming the center of attention.
Anyone who was lucky enough to be at Munster High School’s Boys’ Basketball game against South Bend Riley witnessed this firsthand. Between the JV and Varsity games, members of the West Lake All-Stars, our West Lake Basketball team, received their new jerseys that the Munster Booster Club bought for the team. It was a very special moment. Each player, along with an escort provided by Best Buddies, ran onto the court between two rows of Munster Cheerleaders to receive their jersey from a Varsity basketball player. The players were in the spotlight and the cheer from the crowd for each of them was awesome. The excitement on everyone’s face was contagious. It was not just the All-Stars, either. The Best Buddy escorts, the cheerleaders, the Varsity basketball players, and even the crowd were all cheering for these players, who used to quietly play unknown to most people. It was a time that was long overdue. This is just one of many stories that could be written here that are examples of how students who have been overlooked, but are now part of everyday life at MHS.
Best Buddies is pushing to continue this awesome change. We have tried to be active in school activities. Besides attending the game mentioned above, over the last month we have attended a Varsity Girls’ basketball game, the Student-Faculty basketball game and a West Lake All-Stars basketball game. This is something that we hope to continue with other sports. It is important that we continue to let everyone know that we are all the same, regardless of our differences.
A huge step in accomplishing this becomes very important in March and April. March was Disabilities Awareness Month and April is Autism Awareness Month. One of the goals of Best Buddies is to end the use of the word “Retarded.” We refer to it as the “R” Word. This word, though originally used to label a group of people with a certain type of disability, has long been used as a way to degrade others. The use of the “R” word in this way does nothing but further alienate and segregate those of us who would have received this label in the past. Best Buddies has a saying: “Spread the Word, to End the Word.” As long as people go around using words like this to ridicule others, we as a society are perpetuating the exact belief Best Buddies is trying to change. Help us out, please refrain from using the “R” word. Just take it out of your vocabulary and spread the word, so we can end it!
The last major event of the year is our annual Friendship Walk. This is a walk held each year to raise money for Best Buddies Indiana and to promote friendships of people of all backgrounds, especially between students with and without disabilities. Once again we will be holding the Walk as a joint venture between our chapter and the Best Buddies Chapters at Lake Central and Crown Point High Schools. The date is set for Saturday, May 11th at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. To register or for further information on this wonderful event, use the following link to get to the Lake County Friendship Walk Website: www.bestbuddiesindiana.org/lakecowalk .