Members of the Rockwood Summit community gathered Jan. 22 for a Best Buddies basketball event in the gymnasium.
Best Buddies is a program that offers one-to-one friendship and leadership development designed to positively impact students with and without disabilities. Several Rockwood schools have Best Buddies chapters. The organization testifies to the power of adolescent peer connection at a very important time of life.
Members of the Summit Best Buddies chapter played basketball against the school's varsity boys and girls teams.
"I think it's a big part of who our school is," said Summit boys junior varsity basketball coach Daniel Lisch. "We like to involve kids with differing abilities for a great night to get together and have fun."
Summit Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) teacher and Best Buddies sponsor Emily McKnight organized the event.
"We wanted to raise awareness for our group," said McKnight. "Best Buddies is designed to get students with varying abilities more included in school activities so our members can feel more that they belong. Their mentors are friends and will invite them to activities outside of our club so they can feel like they are more a part of the community."
McKnight said she appreciates the involvement of Summit basketball players.
"Our Best Buddies members always turn out at other games," she said, "so we wanted them to have an opportunity to feel that love and support in return."
Summit sophomore basketball player Avery Vincent explained why she chose to participate.
"It brings the community together," said Vincent. "I hope other students get to experience the same love I have for the sport."
Robert Endsley's son, Jonah, has been part of Best Buddies since middle school. This marks his first high school event.
"Oh, his buddy, Gabby, is great," said Endsley. "The inclusion aspect is what it's all about. It's so important."
"It means a lot to see the whole Summit community come together for an event like this," said Summit basketball player and senior Julia Martens. "It warms my heart to see us all here playing for more than just basketball."