Social-based organization Best Buddies provided dancing and coloring activities for its members at an event called Hobby Expo, to offer a little more fun on Sunday, April 10, before the weekend officially ended.
“They [the students] want to do the same things we’re doing and have a college experience,” said Katie McKay, the Best Buddies president.
Best Buddies is a UNH organization with the goal of sustaining one-on-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Hobby Expo was hosted in the Strafford Room of the MUB and featured activities such as yoga, musical chairs, board games, dancing, volleyball, coloring, and drawing. The social event hosted about 30 “buddy” volunteers and members. Best Buddies has 213 members, with 70-100 being active in involvement.
The sources identified by their first names only are Best Buddies members with disabilities who are minors. The last names are not given in order to respect their privacy.
Best Buddies member Ally celebrated her birthday at the Hobby Expo by wearing a pink princess-style dress and a banner across her chest saying “birthday girl.” Ally’s outfit was completed with a “birthday girl” ribbon.
“I feel like I’m in paradise [when I draw],” said Ally. “And I am right now.”
Ally surprised her buddy Jaime with a rainbow, colored-in picture of a fox. Ally also brought her black dance shoes for the occasion of dancing to songs such as “Cheerleader” by OMI and “Watch Me Whip” by Silentó.
Best Buddies member Nikki found herself overwhelmed by the numerous activity options available, but eventually found that drawing was the best way to relax and take a break from eating Goldfish.
“I like to draw fairies on the weekends,” said Nikki.
Later Nikki danced to “Sorry” by Justin Bieber in front of everybody after finishing her two colorings.
Best Buddies member Alka offered to make a 3-stringed bracelet, and completed the braiding of the strings in a matter of minutes. Alka bonded with Ally, and later won musical chairs.
Best Buddies member Bryan traveled from Vermont to attend the social event. Bryan colored in his drawing template by only using his favorite color, brown. He colored in every line neatly in sequential order from the center outward.
Best Buddies received a community service award last year for the copious amounts of social events and activities it provides, but Best Buddies president Katie McKay says the program is not a community service-based organization.
“We’re doing these events recreationally,” said McKay. “We’re just hanging out.”