There are many opportunities for Auburn students to get involved on campus. Best Buddies is one of those opportunities.
Best Buddies is a program on campus where a college student is paired up with a child that has Down Syndrome and the student acts not only as a mentor but also as a friend the child can turn to whenever they need help or guidance.
Megan Lentz, a sophomore at Auburn University, is a member of this wonderful and rewarding program. Her best buddy is named Taylor and she is 16 years old.
Taylor has four brothers and all five of the children are raised by a single mother. Lentz said, “Best Buddies gives the mother a break once a week when I am with Taylor and it also gives Taylor the chance to have all the attention on her instead of her brothers.”
Each week Lentz will take Taylor to do a fun activity or she will simply hang out with her at her house. Lentz said, “Taylor loves to go to the movies, go bowling, go out to dinner, or listen to Justin Bieber.” Also, once a month the program will put on an activity for all the Best Buddies to attend. Sometimes it is a pajama movie night, a themed dance, or maybe even an Easter egg hunt. The program provides many opportunities for the kids to have a good time. Lentz said, “these activities are a way for our buddies to forget about their disability and simply just live the life of a normal child.” Lentz went on to say, “We want our buddies to live life to the fullest so that is why the program plans fun events once a month."
Lentz wanted to join this program because she wanted to give back to the Auburn/Opelika community. She said, “this program isn’t necessarily the most popular on campus but it was my favorite of them all because I loved the idea of changing someone's life and becoming a best friend to someone who really needs one.”
But with this program comes a few challenges that people may not realize. Lentz said, “Taylor tends to throw temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way and sometimes I have a hard time of dealing with that. I know I am suppose to be a friend to her but sometimes I have to actually discipline her so she knows she can’t actually act that way again.”
Anyone can truly see how much Lentz cares for Taylor and how much Taylor cares for Lentz. They truly are best buddies. Lentz said, “ Taylor does not have a care in the world about what other people think of her and I admire her so much for that. I have learned that sometimes it's you that you need to make happy and you don't need to worry if everyone around you is judging you.”
Best Buddies is a truly a rewarding program not only for the child but also for the mentor. Lentz concludes with, “it is a life changing opportunity to be a part of this outstanding program and it is the little things in life Taylor has taught me to enjoy.”