Best Buddies Barristers

Ok. We're going to dream BIG. 

I teach a class of high school students, ages 14-22, with a variety of abilities and disabilities, in a large public school in LAUSD. 
My students stay with me for pretty much the entirety of their high school career, with only 1-2 classes each day away from mine. We learn all the academics (English, math, history, science, arts) and also life skills (cooking, cleaning, job skills, a school-wide coffee delivery business, riding the bus, recreation, laundry, gardening, community skills, communication and sign language, technology).

I also run a club called Best Buddies, which brings together students with and without disabilities to create real friendships and understanding. The Best Buddies meet weekly to hang out in my classrooms, plan weekend activities monthly, do a performance at the beginning of the year, have a mid-year talent show, and plan a ball.

There are at least 75 students in the club. The impact of the club on these students, and the school community at large, cannot be overstated. My students feel like they are genuinely part of the whole school community: they are not hidden, left in some small far off classroom where we can’t bother anyone. They are in the thick of it - participating with all the other students, with friends all over campus. But the Peer Buddies may reap the biggest rewards. They learn that not only are they hardworking students, but that they are compassionate, caring friends; that people with disabilities are not that different; that they are able to communicate with someone who cannot talk; that just by being observant and kind and making a small effort, they can change someone else’s day. 

The Best Buddies Ball is a huge event for the students. We spend months preparing- theme, invitations, decorations, dj, getting dresses donated, inviting friends and families, getting school approvals. And on the big day, we spend all day getting ready - clothes, hair, makeup, nail polish, photos, while the buddies prep the gym. This ball is for students from my class and the other two classes of students with more moderate intellectual disabilities, as well as ALL their families, all the adults who work with them, and a ton of our Best Buddies without disabilities. The students start looking forward to it as soon as school starts in the fall.  This year we are inviting up to 100 friends from outside the club. It expands our community and brings tons of people together. 

Our Best Buddies Barristers could use some help. 

Here is what we will fund, in order of use:
1. Best Buddies chapter dues - every year we scramble to put together our annual dues so that we can use the Best Buddies name, logo, and support, and send the president to the leadership conference.
2. Best Buddies Ball  - decorations, photo booth, food, supplies.
3. Buses for trips beyond what we can ride using the Metro.
4. Supplies for Best Buddies Activities when we get together on Mondays.
5. Activity Funds - Bowling! Movie Night! Picnic Day!


  • Linda Quinn 
    • $200 
    • 54 mos
  • Kathryn Kuykendall 
    • $50 
    • 54 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $1,100 
    • 54 mos
  • Erin Zabel 
    • $200 
    • 54 mos
  • Ann Hong 
    • $200 
    • 55 mos
See all


Barbara Lempel 
Los Angeles, CA

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