Best Buddies connects CSU students and people with disabilities

One of CSU’s newest student organizations became officially recognized Oct. 12.

That organization is Best Buddies, a program that strives to create friendships between CSU students and people with disabilities.

According to Ellen Holbrook, president of CSU chapter of Best Buddies, the program is a great way to connect the community and students, as well as helping spread the movement to end inequality and show that people with disabilities are beneficial to the community.

“It is always good to have a program just for people with special needs interacting with students,” said Olivia Onofrio, vice president of CSU chapter of Best Buddies. “Students our age tend to forget about the special needs population, and we need to see how wonderful that population is.

“It is also beneficial for the people with special needs to get out and get to hang out. They don’t get to do the things that we do, so it is good for them to get a social life and feel good about it.”

By creating a Best Buddies chapter on campus, the program helps not only the CSU and Fort Collins community, but the state as well, said its members.

“I thought this would be good … at CSU,” Holbrook said. “There are three chapters, but no state office for Colorado to support and help chapters. If we can show community interest that we want one, and the community is ready for it, we can raise money and get one in Colorado.”

Holbrook started the process of getting Best Buddies to campus last March. She had to go through an application process to become an expansion chapter through the national Best Buddies office, and then raise enough money to attend a Best Buddies conference during the summer in order to have their chapter considered accurate. At the beginning of the year, they had to go through SLiCE to become a student organization.

In order to become an organization recognized by the campus, organizations must complete a registration form, that includes a constitution with criteria for students organizations, a non-discriminatory clause and a lawful purpose clause; have at least two officers attend officer orientation; and have at least four members and one faculty, staff or graduate student advisor.

“The process time varies,” said Hermen Diaz, assistant director of Involvement and Student Organizations for SLiCE. “It depends on the student organization and how fast they work. Once everything is complete it usually takes two to three business days to verify.”

According to Diaz, the Best Buddies approval process took a bit slower because of the time it took to get both officers to complete the officer orientation, due to busy schedules.

“I was satisfied, SLiCE does a good job of managing student organizations,” Holbrook said. “That portion was easy, and though it took a few months to register, it wasn’t because of SLiCE and their process.”

Now that Best Buddies is officially recognized by the university, it can more aggressively build their chapter at CSU. With almost 35 students already signed up and 20 more interested in the student organization, its officers can start holding informational meetings to attract more members and volunteers throughout the year, according to Holbrook.

“This whole thing really makes you realize what is important in life,” Holbrook said. “You see what true friendship is and care and compassion. I want members to get that. We will have our regular meetings, but we also will get to go on field trips every month and get to go bowling or to the movies. We get to just hang out and it will be really fun.”

Collegian Writer Taylor Pettaway can be reached at news@collegian.com.