Written by Shauncy Lim. I‘m Shauncy Lim, I’m 19 years old and I’m a rising freshman at Foothill College. I was in the Futures program at Gunn High School and I enjoyed being a barista at Coffeeology, a coffee shop for staff. During my junior year I was one of the board members of the Best Buddies club at Gunn.

 

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     Every year when the fall club sign-ups begin, a lot of people sign up for Best Buddies. When we have the first club meeting, everyone joins, even those students who didn’t sign up, but that’s okay, Anyone can join as long as they sign in. People come and go to the club throughout the year. Usually, at the beginning of the year, some of the students join the club for a few weeks or less, and after those weeks the members of our club start to decline. I know each year (except freshmen year) that in a few weeks or less some of the students will not show up to the club anymore. Sometimes I wonder, where are they, For example, “I thought Heather would be here hmmm, is she busy? Will she be back next week? Maybe she stopped showing up.” Even though it’s expected that every year everyone shows up,I still wonder why they aren’t showing up. 

     I think that some of the students join the club because we, students with differing abilities and disabilities have snacks that are always provided in the club. I know that everyone likes snacks and treats but I feel like they should also join us for activities we do in the club. Even though we make snacks and treats as some of our activities, the club does not revolve around only snacks and making them. It makes me feel upset that they are there just for the snacks and not to join us for the actual club.

Best Buddies is a popular club at our school. I feel like the people want to join the club because it will make them look cool and popular amongst friends who are in the club and those who aren’t. Some of them just go on their phones and do not associate with us, or just talk amongst themselves. I feel like they are in the club just for the name of it. 

     Only a minority of people come to the club and stay for the right reasons and that’s why our club is usually small at Gunn. Even though some are there for the snacks they do stay but still aren’t there for the right reasons or aren’t active participants. But the people that are there for the name don’t stay for long and weren’t there for the right reasons anyway. I think it’s discouraged and I feel disappointed when people leave the club or not stay in the club for the right reasons. I thought it would be fun with them around and join us for activities. 

     In the future, I hope that students will join the club for the right reasons like connecting with others who are not in their friend groups/making new friends with us who are mostly hanging out within our Futures/F2 community and willing to include us as friends in their group, students who want to take part in the activities that we’re doing and to break the barriers between us and the rest of the Gunn community. I suggest in the future that, Best Buddies would have projects that span multiple meetings so people feel responsible for committing to the project and attending consistently, having incentives for people who come to a lot of meetings, and/or have people share their ideas about what they would like to do in the club. 

     In conclusion, I hope Best Buddies at Palo Alto’s Gunn High School will change and become better club for all our students.   

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The PAUSD FUTURES PROGRAM is a student-focused program that serves students from Fletcher & Greene Middle Schools, Paly & Gunn High Schools, the Post Secondary program, and Project Search. The FUTURES program builds on student strengths and potential, with opportunities for meaningful transferable academic, life, vocational and social/leisure skills. Our goal is to support our students to create quality lives, becoming integral parts of the community of Palo Alto as they transition from middle school to adulthood to live, work, learn and play in their community.

Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

 

Please visit here to read and hear a recap  of Magical Bridge Foundation’s Teen DEI Board Presentation.

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