Best Buddies Launches New Inclusion Initiative

Club Officers Attend Annual Best Buddies Regional Leadership Conference Training Summit


Evelyn Abbott

Some officers attend regional leadership conference.

Renee Abbott, News Editor

Walpole High School took a national pledge and joined the Spread the Word: Inclusion campaign in efforts to be more inclusive of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Best Buddies program at WHS ran the campaign by providing a banner for students to sign during lunch on March 4, as well as asking students to then sign the pledge online.

“It makes me feel proud and included,” junior Rory Hegarty said.

The Spread the Word: Inclusion campaign was initially founded in 2009 with the message “Spread the Word to End the Word,” targeting the use of derogatory words towards people with disabilities. The goal of the campaign is to foster a more inclusive environment in schools, the workplace and communities. The campaign works with Special Olympics and the national Best Buddies program to spread their message. 

“The global engagement campaign remains committed to empowering grassroots leaders to change their communities, schools and workplaces, now through a call to their peers to take action for inclusion,” the Spread the Word website stated. 

Lexi O’Malley also helped advertise the campaign by showing a commercial starring her and Peter O’Farrell on the morning news. Specifically, students at WHS were able to make a pledge on the Spread the Word: Inclusion website, sign a banner and receive a sticker after pledging during lunch. 

“I think Walpole has a good inclusive environment already. I just think that the campaign will help people think more about the words they use,” President Evelyn Abbott said. 

The WHS Best Buddies program has been recognized this past year as a Unified Champion Schools and a National Banner School on Nov. 29. Walpole has both a unified track team and a unified bocce team and hosts multiple tournaments and events each year as well as dances, bowling nights, and monthly meetings

The WHS Best Buddies officers also recently attended the second annual Best Buddies Regional Leadership Training Summit on Feb. 29 at Algonquin Regional High School, where they attended workshops regarding effective communication, being a community leader and guiding their school’s chapter.

“It was inspiring to hear other people’s great ideas and what they have done with their chapter,” Abbott said. 

Officers also had the opportunity to connect with students from other schools to discuss how to create a more inclusive environment. Roughly 300 people from all across Massachusetts attended. 

“It was a good experience because I got to talk to people from other towns and we were able to share ideas, which was beneficial for everyone involved,” Vice President Brendan Mahoney said.