The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.

The Highlander Online

The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.

The Highlander Online

The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.

The Highlander Online

Championing inclusion: Best Buddies club’s inclusion nights

Students+in+Best+Buddies+gather+for+a+St.+Patricks+Day+meeting%2C+one+of+their+many+meetings+a+year%2C+where+they+collaborated+with+their+buddies+to+make+crafts+and+hunt+for+gold+coins.
Maddy Gehl
Students in Best Buddies gather for a St. Patrick’s Day meeting, one of their many meetings a year, where they collaborated with their buddies to make crafts and hunt for gold coins.

Lily Oberneder, senior, President of the Best Buddies club, is paving the way for inclusion and shining a light on friendship in school by incorporating the club with sporting events.
Oberneder has led “inclusion nights” for sports such as basketball, volleyball and football games this past school year. These events are a time where they can advocate and spread the word about Best Buddies, as well as make the buddies feel special and included.
Oberneder said, “We have raised over $3,000 in the last couple of months during inclusion nights at basketball, football, and volleyball games. These have been extremely successful, and it has raised a lot of awareness for our club.”
At their inclusion nights, the students and buddies walk during half time or a break in the games and make a speech on their purpose as well as the buddies in the club. They then take donations where they have raised enough money to keep the club going strong by doing more activities and events where everyone feels included. Planning these events at sports games are a way to have more people spread the word.
Oberneder described the outcome she wants for her time as president of this club.
“I believe all people should feel included. The connections I have created with all of the individuals with disabilities at Homestead have fostered my passion for this club. Also, I want them to have a voice in the school and community. I have been a part of Best Buddies since I was 10 years old, and being president has allowed me to expand and give my all to this organization,” she said. Since Oberneder is a senior, she hopes that this club and organization will continue her efforts and expand further than she has in the last two years.
Sara Boeck, adviser for Best Buddies and a special education teacher for 23 years, said, “Best Buddies is a national organization that empowers the special abilities of people with disabilities by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers.” Boeck added, “HHS’s Best Buddies Club emphasizes mutual friendships, where students with and without disabilities come together as equals.”
Livvy Boehlke, senior and vice president of Best Buddies, described why she joined Best Buddies.
“I chose to be in Best Buddies because I knew that this was the community that I wanted to represent and be surrounded by. The people are amazing, and this club truly makes a difference in the buddies’ lives,” Boehlke said.
Now that the sports season is over, Oberneder is planning for more events at the end of the school year.
In their next event, they will be “collaborating with VOICES (a collaborative group that supports families with children with disabilities) to have an open gym for the entire district, in the field house, to hang out and play games with each other,” according to Oberneder. “We are so excited and grateful to have expanded our club this far in one year, and we hope that it made a lasting difference in everyone’s life.”

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About the Contributor
Melina Angeli
Melina Angeli, Staffer
Melina Angeli is a senior at Homestead High School. She is continuing her education at The University of Minnesota Twin-Cities and studying Marketing. When she is not at school, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, going outdoors, and crafting. She used to play volleyball and continues to enjoy playing. Melina has a passion for social media and beauty marketing.

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    Dawn PfaffApr 13, 2024 at 8:10 am

    Amazing work by rock star students! The love, kindness and respect is felt in the classroom where all are included.

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