The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


Aspen Middle School Joins The Best Buddie Program

Courtesy of Ann Perlmutter
Best Buddie Participants play with slime during a Monday meeting.

This school year, the international ‘Best Buddy Program’ has made its way to Aspen Middle School. Best Buddies is a nonprofit, with the mission of creating friendships, inclusive living, integrated employment, and leadership opportunities for students with disabilities.

Best Buddies was founded in 1989 at Georgetown University by Anthony Kennedy Shriver. Since then it has spread across the country and internationally.

“Best Buddies and the Colorado Mission Expansion Team are working hard to create Best Buddies Chapters throughout schools in the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Aspen Middle School Counselor and Best Buddie Lead Melanie Thulin.

This school year was the first time the program was introduced at AMS. They now have about 40 members. The members are both students with and without disabilities. In addition to being a great way to connect with other students, the program also gives students leadership opportunities.

Thus far the Best Buddies program has had multiple Monday lunch meetings and parties. In addition to a holiday gathering, the program held its match party. The match party was an event where students got to choose their buddies. The members meet in the AMS art room on Mondays during lunch/recess as well as one day a month, hosting a community event in the same space.

At Monday meetings, “we do word searches, games, and bracelet-making,” said Best Buddie Director and eighth grader, Ann Perlmutter.

Student members were elected for leadership roles through nomination. Some of the middle school students in leadership positions are President, Allessa Oliver; Vice President, Logan Novak; Best Buddies Director, Ann Perlmutter; and Best Buddies Member, Kiah Eklund. These members come up with all of the activity ideas and many of them meet on Fridays to make a plan for Monday. They are also responsible for creating fundraising ideas and ensuring both the space and activities are accessible and fun for all members.

“One of my friends, Allessa, said that I would be a good Buddie Director and that was how I got into the program,” said Perlmutter.

The leaders are trained through virtual sessions with Best Buddies staff members. They also get the chance to attend the Best Buddies Leadership Conference. There they will continue to learn about being a leader.

“I wanted to be involved because I have autism and find it fun to see other kids with disabilities,” said Perlmutter.

“I noticed the 7th graders talking to one of our buddies and engaging in conversation they hadn’t done previously,” said Vice President Logan Novak.

“I have met many amazing people and heard about their stories throughout and before Best Buddies. These people who I met have been with Best Buddies for several years, and their stories about just one year are fantastic” said President Allessa Oliver.

If you would like to get involved with Best Buddies, or ask any questions please reach out to Advisor Melanie Thulin at [email protected], Co-Advisor Renee Giles at [email protected], or the Roaring Fork Valley Director Michelle Stiller at [email protected].

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