Local junior high honored by Best Buddies International as Overall Most Outstanding Middle School Chapter

School honored at 26th annual Best Buddies leadership conference

Kelsey Hill SV1BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Best Buddies chapter at Lawrence Junior High School in Las Vegas was presented with the 2014-2015 Overall Outstanding Chapter Award at Best Buddies International’s 26th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference.

Lawrence was selected from 285 Best Buddies Middle School programs throughout the world and many Middle School Outstanding Chapter applicants as the Overall Most Outstanding Middle School Chapter for its dedication to the Best Buddies mission.

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The leadership conference prepares student leaders to operate the Best Buddies chapters at their schools, which involves recruiting new members, planning group activities for their chapters, and promoting social integration for people with IDD.

The chapter at Lawrence Junior High school, which has 55 participants, was started in 2013. Statewide, Best Buddies Nevada operates 44 chapters in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges.

“On behalf of the Best Buddies Nevada advisory board and our staff, we are so very proud of the accomplishments of the Lawrence Junior High School Best Buddies chapter,” said Best Buddies Nevada state director Jason Smith. “Congratulations to our amazing student leader and chapter president, Nova Riley, and our hard-working faculty advisors, Dawn Deering and Julie Coughlin, for your outstanding service to our mission and for receiving this well-deserved national recognition. Thank you for being champions of inclusion for our Buddies!”

Nearly 2,100 students, leaders, volunteers and staff members, representing Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom and the United traveled to Indiana University in Bloomington to participate in the three-day conference, from July 17-20.

Working under the theme “I’M IN,” these students, selected for their active leadership roles within Best Buddies, attended a series of interactive workshops focusing on leadership development, community service, civic responsibility, IDD and volunteerism. Major components of the leadership conferencewas live-streamed online, showcasing the performances, speakers and education sessions that took place this year.The opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies, as well as the Saturday educational sessions were streamed live at bestbuddies.tv.

Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 1,900 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide.

Today, Best Buddies’ eight formal programs — Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies, Jobs, Ambassadors, and Promoters — engage participants in each of the 50 states and in over 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of more than 900,000 people with and without disabilities around the world. In many cases, as a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders and make lifelong friendships.

For more information, please visit bestbuddies.org, facebook.com/bestbuddies or twitter.com/bestbuddies.

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