Best Buddies looking for more students

U of W Chapter looking for more students to befriend adults with disabilities

The Best Buddies Winnipeg Chapter is looking for University of Winnipeg students to befriend people with intellectual disabilities.

The University of Winnipeg Best Buddies aim to promote friendships between university or college students and adults with learning disabilities. The students get a chance to volunteer and make a friend, while the participants with learning disabilities can practice their social skills and have fun.

Belinda Jacksic, the president of the Best Buddies Winnipeg Chapter, says it’s a way to have fun while also volunteering.

“We’ve got a lot of university students. Every event is full of laughter and joy,” Jacksic says. “(The participants) look forward to the hangouts. The volunteers become a crucial part of their week. And it’s fun. It’s a chance (for the participants) to hang out with kids who are younger, and they get a new perspective and learn some new things. We learn a lot from them as well.”

The Best Buddies organize various activities that get the group out into the city, such as bowling events, coffee shop meetups and even watching movies. The students are expected to contact their buddy once a week, and they must see their buddy in person every two weeks.

Erin Campbell, a joint communications student, says that they would love to volunteer if they can find time in their busy schedule.

“I wouldn’t mind doing that. I’d be happy to know I’m making someone’s day better by just hanging out with them,” Campbell says. “But the problem isn’t ‘if I’ll do it,’ it’s ‘when will I have the time to (volunteer)?’”

Campbell says she thinks there isn’t as big of a stigma against mental health issues anymore, so she hopes more students will volunteer their time.

Jacksic says the most important skill for anybody looking to volunteer is commitment.

“The participants look forward to seeing their buddies often, so if you can’t commit, you’re setting them up for disappointment. If you can’t commit a certain amount, then this isn’t for you. I don’t want the participants to enjoy seeing their buddy for them to only see them once a month,” Jacksic says.

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Published in Volume 72, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 14, 2017)

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