NEWBURYPORT — Newburyport high school junior Emma Adams likes making new friends and, three years ago she began making some very special ones indeed.
“I’ve always seen the kids in the hallways and they are the sweetest kids you’ll ever meet,” Adams said of the members of the high school’s Best Buddies group. “They always say, ‘hi’ even when you don’t know them. So, I just wanted to check it out. I went to the first meeting and it was absolutely amazing. It blew my mind.”
Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“These kids are not seen as equals (by other students),” Adams said. “They are not seen like you and me, and that really needs to change because they are. They are just like you and me. I’m sure everybody is different. So that doesn’t seem to make sense to me.”
To do more to help her friends, Adams became the chapter’s vice president this year. In the fall, she will assume the role as president, replacing senior Alex Edwards, who joined the chapter because she believes people should embrace one another’s differences.
“I know that, when I started Best Buddies, I was a little shy talking to the Buddies,” she said. “I didn’t know necessarily how to talk to them. But then you realize that they are just people and it just became so much easier and I’ve built some pretty solid relationships with some of these kids. I see people in a completely different light now. I don’t think I was very open-minded when I first came here. This has given me an opportunity to be friends with all of these kids and I think I see now that, just because someone has a disability, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be a beautiful person.”