A Halloween dance and costume contest combines with service tonight at the Best Buddies’ Halloween Dance Party.
All students are invited to participate in the dance party, and for one BYU student this dance party is the best offered all year.
“They completely let loose, they are the first ones on the dance floor, they don’t care what anyone thinks and they seriously have some great moves,” said Amanda Sumner, a program director for Best Buddies. “It’s just the best time.”
The party is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. BYU Best Buddies is co-sponsoring with the Utah Down’s Syndrome Foundation to put on this activity.
Best Buddies is an international club with the goal to build one-on-one friendships between students and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, said Sarah Esplin, a program director for Best Buddies.
“I’m super excited, it’s one of the most fun activities of the year,” said Anneliese Mecham, a junior studying communication disorders.
Volunteers are encouraged to come dressed in a Halloween costume to participate in a costume contest, dance party, food and games.
“If you’ve never been to a dance with people with disabilities you are seriously missing out,” Sumner said. “These dances are the funnest dances I’ve ever been to.”
BYU Best Buddies hosts activities every month for volunteers to participate in.
“The point of our activity is to give the buddy pairs an opportunity to hang out and to get to know each other better,” Esplin said.
There are two levels of volunteers in the Best Buddies program. The first is a college buddy, where students are paired with an individual with disabilities. The second is an associate member, volunteers who participate in activities. Being an associate member allows for students to participate with Best Buddies without a significant time commitment.
College buddies contact their buddy weekly and hang out with them. College buddies are required to hang out with their buddies twice a month; they can call them or email or Facebook other times throughout the month, Esplin said.
“Our goal is to put ourselves out of business,” Esplin said.
The more buddies the program has the more they can serve those with disabilities in the community.
Esplin spoke about her relationships with her buddy, Rebecca.
“We’ve gone to football games, we go to the Hale Center Theater and we’re currently working on a talent,” Esplin said. “We’re going to enter into a national competition.”
The Best Buddies program provides friendships for those with disabilities to build relationships with individuals they wouldn’t otherwise, Esplin said.
“You get to know them really well and it’s really fun to know that you have someone to talk to and to chat with,” Mecham said. “[My buddy] makes other people laugh and she’s just a positive influence, so it’s just really nice to be around her.”
Even though the program requires a time commitment, Esplin and Sumner both said it’s worth the time.
“Being able to take out [my buddy] to the activities, I look forward to it every week,” Sumner said. “It’s the highlight of my week.”
The program is rewarding and well organized, which allows the college buddies to focus on their relationship with their buddy, Sumner said.
“Even after Best Buddies ends I plan on keeping in contact with my buddy forever,” Sumner said.