Benet Academy Creates Benet Buddies


Tessa Grimes, Caroline Maras, Abby O’Connor, and Emily Weigus

Volunteers at a Benet Buddies volunteering event pose for a group picture.

Benet Buddies is a club at Benet Academy helping to facilitate friendships between Benet Academy students and students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDS). This club is meant to connect with the students Benet volunteers hang out with. Spending time with these students can make them feel that they can live everyday teenage life and feel accepted and loved by everyone. Also, it will help them get their mind off anything bothering them when hanging out with the student volunteers. Best Buddies wants all children with IDDs to feel loved and cared for by people their age. “Benet Buddies holds meetings at an autism center in Naperville,” said Brinkley Douglas, the President of Best Buddies. However, Benet Academy recently separated from Best Buddies’ Illinois Chapter to make it easier for volunteers to try new volunteer events.

The message of Best Buddies reached Benet Academy in the 2020-2021 school year when seniors Emma Duffy and Maggie Schatz proposed the idea of starting a Best Buddies Chapter through Benet Academy. Duffy has a brother with autism, and when she first started at Benet, she was disheartened to see that there was no club dedicated to helping those with special needs. Therefore, they decided to draft a proposal for the club with the help of former Campus Minister Mrs. Bedore. After the club proposal was approved, the two girls received around 100 applications for the club. Duffy said, “There were so many kids at Benet who were getting involved in programs like Best Buddies outside of school because Benet did not offer anything.” Hence, Best Buddies was an excellent opportunity for in-school service. She also added that Best Buddies at Benet was a way to show students that people with IDDs should be treated with respect and equity.

Best Buddies, at Benet Academy, works closely with two organizations: Turning Pointe Autism Foundation and Special Olympics Illinois. Turning Pointe provides education opportunities for individuals who cannot learn in a typical school setting. Student volunteers from Benet Academy attend Turning Pointe monthly on Saturdays and spend time with the students doing various activities. Best Buddies Turning Pointe Board Member Tia Petratos said, “At Turning Pointe, Benet students build everlasting friendships with a buddy and spend the day playing games, doing crafts, and watching movies.” Special Olympics, however, has students involved in a more physical environment. Best Buddies Special Olympics Board Member Drake Cote said, “Our goal is to help Special Olympics athletes unleash the human spirit through the joy of sport.” Benet volunteers who participate in this program help in several ways, like assisting with handing out awards, ensuring everyone is on task, following the rules, and cheering on the athletes.

However, Best Buddies has recently changed its name to Benet Buddies. This is due to the program we have at Benet Academy separating from Best Buddies Illinois Chapter. Becoming their organization can offer more service opportunities for Benet Academy students to participate. Benet Buddies can now work with various groups of all ages and whomever they see fit rather than only people around their age. Since rebranding and becoming a separate organization, Benet Buddies hopes to continue to grow. Douglas reflected on the change and said, “I hope that Benet Buddies is a club that lasts for a long time at Benet Academy. I think with the right people leading the club, the future is bright.” Although it may seem that separation from Best Buddies is bad, there is no doubt Benet Buddies will go on to great success.