Best Buddies and Its Work for Social Integration

Down syndrome is a chromosomal combination that has always been part of the human condition. It exists in all regions of the world, and usually it has variable effects on learning styles, physical characteristics or health.

Adequate access to health care, early intervention programs, inclusive education, and suitable research, are vital for the growth and development of individuals with Down syndrome.

In December 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly designated March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day. Through this celebration, the General Assembly wants to raise public awareness on the subject and to recall the value and inherent dignity of people with intellectual disabilities, as well as their valuable contributions as promoters of the well-being and diversity of their communities. The UN’s organ also wants to emphasize the importance of these individual’s autonomy and independence; particularly in ensuring their freedom for decision-making.

Best Buddies International was founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, who recognizes that “people with intellectual disabilities have been excluded or do not have fundamental opportunities for socialization, integration and community participation; which limits their full development in all areas of their life”.

Best Buddies started in the United States and is now operating in more than 50 countries. The organization arrived to Mexico in September 2003, starting with a pilot group of 30 buddy partners. Nowadays, it has activities in Mexico City, State of Mexico, Puebla, Cancun, Querétaro, Oaxaca, Merida, León, Guadalajara, Xalapa, Cuernavaca, Ciudad Juárez, San Luis Potosí and Monterrey.

In partnership with Fundación Telmex, Best Buddies México contributes to the integration and social participation of people with intellectual disabilities through three main programs: One-to-One Friendships builds friendships between people with and without IDD, offering social mentoring while improving the quality of life and level of inclusion. Integrated Employment secures jobs for people with IDD, allowing them to earn an income, pay taxes, and support themselves. And Leadership Development educates and empowers people with and without IDD to be leaders, public speakers and advocates.

This program, which is an example of social and labor inclusion, is promoted and disseminated in companies and universities. In 2016, Best Buddies has more than 18,000 participants, 30 people with intellectual disabilities working in various companies and 13 ambassadors of Best Buddies Mexico.