Lincoln-Way Central Best Buddies recognized as an Illinois' Rookie Chapter of the Year
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

On Saturday, May 5, 2018, the Lincoln-Way Central Best Buddies Chapter was recognized as one of only two Illinois’ Rookie Chapters of the Year. The chapter was recognized during the Friendship Walk, an annual event that allows all Best Buddies chapters in northern Illinois to gather at the Brookfield Zoo.

The program, which began at Lincoln-Way Central this school year, builds one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities through school and community friendship programs.
"Best Buddies is great because you get to meet new people and you get to do fun things with them," says Lincoln-Way Central student Zoe Lyerla.

Lincoln-Way Central’s Best Buddies Chapter is made up of approximately 80 active participants who attend monthly meetings as well as plan their own “hang-outs” outside of school. “This is such great growth for a club that just started this year, and we look forward to even more members next year,” says Advisor Allison Murphy.
After walking around the zoo at the Friendship Walk, students participated in a dance party with a live DJ. The event allowed all club members to meet students from other Best Buddies chapters as well.

“The best thing about Best Buddies is seeing the excitement on the student's faces,” says Murphy. “Whether we are meeting as a whole group, or they're just sharing stories about what they've been doing with their Best Buddies family outside of school, the pure joy that radiates is just heart-warming.”

Murphy says that the program’s success is thanks to the dedication of club members. The club members planned many events during their first year including a firehouse visit, sporting events, bowling, a "Friendsgiving Feast" and an all-district Best Buddies Dance.

Murphy was originally notified that Lincoln-Way Central was one of two recipients of the Illinois’ Rookie Chapter of the Year award on April 18.

“I was beyond excited to receive the news…” she says. “The hard work and preparation put forth to get this club up and running was recognized at the regional office and we were truly grateful! We wanted to provide an environment that allowed students to participate in new things all while spending time with their peers…We are truly humbled to receive this award and look forward to continuing to build and better this club as the years go on.”