November 17, 2000
Best Buddies International Founder Anthony Kennedy Shriver visited Millikan High School recently. Shriver was joined by "American Pie" star Thomas Ian Nicholas for a lunchtime pizza party with dozens of Best Buddies chapter members at Millikan High School.
Best Buddies International was conceived in 1987 by Shriver when he was a student at Georgetown University. Best Buddies is a program to improve the lives of those with developmental disabilities by pairing them in rewarding one-on-one friendships with non-developmentally disabled peers.
Studies show that most people with developmental disabilities never experience a meaningful friendship at any time throughout their lives. Best Buddies seeks to end this painful, potentially life-long isolation through its positive and meaningful social interaction opportunities.
Best Buddies envisions a world where people with developmental disabilities are so successfully integrated into schools, workplaces and communities that its services will someday be unnecessary. Until that day, Best Buddies works to educate middle school, high school and college students, corporate and community citizens and employers about the needs and abilities of people with developmental disabilities.
In 1996, Steven Reynolds, paraeducator for the Long Beach Unified School District, recognized how the Long Beach community could benefit from the friendship of regular and special education students. He brought Best Buddies to local schools by chartering the first start-up high school chapter in California at Millikan High School.
In its first year, Best Buddies paired nearly 70 students in one-on-one matches. During the four years since Best Buddies came to Long Beach, the program has grown to include six high school chapters serving students at Wilson, Jordan, Lakewood, Cabrillo and Polytechnic high schools. New chapters have been launched in local middle schools as well as a higher education chapter serving the California State University at Long Beach. The Long Beach area also has the Best Buddies Citizens program.
Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill recently recognized Best Buddies with a Mayoral Proclamation declaring March as "Best Buddies Month" in the City of Long Beach.