Best Buddies Hosts First Virtual Prom

Best+Buddies+Hosts+First+Virtual+Prom

Mia LoBosco

By Mia LoBosco

April 10, Best Buddies WA will host its first Buddy Ball, a virtual prom night that will promote inclusion for people with and without disabilities.

Best Buddies is an organization that works to advocate for people with disabilities and to help them make new friends. There are chapters in several different places around the world, including Washington state. 

Best Buddies WA has continued to fulfill its mission of inclusion by creating a Student Advisory Board; a group of student members who plan statewide events and spread awareness about disability activism. This board has worked over the past few months to create the Buddy Ball and spread its message across different communities.

MaryKylie Cranford, the incoming State Advisory Chair for Best Buddies, has mentored program participants while they created this event. Cranford is looking forward to seeing their hard work pay off. 

“I’ve just been impressed with how a lot of the students are taking on this pretty big event by themselves, and really making it their own,” Cranford said.

One of the main goals of the Buddy Ball is to give students the opportunity to have social interactions with others, even though it will be behind a screen. Participants can reconnect with their friends and spend time with people they don’t know well. 

“I think people should attend this event because it’s going to be a really fun way for [people to be] able to see their friends and other students while [we are] still not able to hang out or have an in-person prom,” Cranford said. 

Although the Buddy Ball is designed to be similar to a high school prom, there will also be college students and adults there. Students from different schools around the state and students who are not a part of Best Buddies are also welcome to attend. 

Additionally, Best Buddies wants to make sure this event is accessible for everyone. The Student Advisory Board has kept this in mind while planning the various activities they will offer. 

 “To be accessible, it has to have multiple opportunities for people to have fun. For example, not everybody likes a very loud and high-energy dance party, and they also might feel uncomfortable dancing or talking in front of a big group. They might want a more calming small group [instead],” Best Buddies MI Chapter President Kelly Cotter said. 

To make the virtual dance work, the Zoom meeting will have several breakout rooms, each with a different activity, including dancing, crafts and photos, and a Student Advisory. Board members will assist the members of each room. This oversight will ensure that students with and without disabilities can choose what they feel comfortable doing. 

Inclusivity for people with disabilities is important not just for this event, but also for all proms. Cotter believes that schools should be more aware about accessibility when creating both in-person and virtual events. 

“A lot of times, our proms at schools aren’t very accommodating for people with disabilities and they don’t have our students in special education in mind when planning [them]. By having an inclusive prom that’s accessible for all people, I hope that starts a movement in our high schools and other high schools in our community to make sure that proms are inclusive,” Cotter said. 

Cotter’s observation applies to Best Buddies’ overall vision as well. The Buddy Ball will introduce more people to the organization and possibly lead to more students joining their school’s chapter. 

“I hope that people who haven’t already been involved with Best Buddies find this an easy way to see what it is about,” Cranford said. 

By coming to the Buddy Ball, students will meet the club members while doing a fun activity. It is a way for people to fully experience the program’s advocacy.

“I think everyone should come to learn about the Best Buddies mission because we do such amazing work. I think a lot of people don’t really understand how beneficial relationships with people with and without disabilities is for not just the disabled community but also our able-bodied community,” Cotter said. 

The Buddy Ball will give participants the opportunity to socialize with others in a creative way, as well as advocate for people with and without disabilities to highlight Best Buddies’ mission to make everyone feel included in our community. 

The Buddy Ball will take place over Zoom Saturday, April 10. Information on how to register is on The MIHS Islander social media pages. and the link below.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/buddy-ball-bustin-a-move-in-bellingham-best-buddies-wa-tickets-147038982555