AHS students build lifetime friendships with Best Buddies TN - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

AHS students build lifetime friendships with Best Buddies TN

For some of the students, the Feburary dance was their first prom. (Photo Source: Best Buddies) For some of the students, the Feburary dance was their first prom. (Photo Source: Best Buddies)
Frank says she wants people to realize that people with disabilities shouldn't be treated any differently. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) Frank says she wants people to realize that people with disabilities shouldn't be treated any differently. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
More than 150 students at AHS participate in the program, which has 15 students with disabilitlites. (Photo Source: Best Buddies) More than 150 students at AHS participate in the program, which has 15 students with disabilitlites. (Photo Source: Best Buddies)
ARLINGTON, TN (WMC) -

Some teens with intellectual or developmental disabilities may not have the opportunity to hang out with neighborhood kids or go to school functions. But for students like Kirsten Frank, who lives with cerebral palsy, making friends is a breeze, all thanks to one Mid-South organization.

Best Buddies Tennessee seeks to bridge the gap and help students with disabilities build life-long friendships by matching students with peer buddies.

"The best thing for me has probably been making a lot of friends, because before I didn't have a lot," said Frank, 17, who recently attended her first prom.

Frank and her classmates at Arlington High School recently created a social media campaign in hopes of getting Justin Timberlake to attend the dance. Although it didn't grab his attention, Frank says she had a good time.

"We thought it would be really cool for him to be there to support the Best Buddies," said Frank. "My favorite part was probably dancing with my best friend."

More than 150 peer students at AHS participate in the program. The Mid-South chapter was founded by Area Director Melissa Todd, who spearheaded awareness and funds to start the group.

“I got started because I have a son with special needs, and he was 17 years old and had never had a friend. I knew about Best Buddies and heard about Best Buddies; and I just really wanted Best Buddies to come to Memphis," said Todd.

In just two years, the organization is currently in 14 schools and will soon expand to 24. Todd says the growth is something worth noticing for local residents.

“We're changing lives through friendship, and that's what Best Buddies is all about," said Todd. "We're really making a difference and we're teaching kids that you can be friends with someone who's a little bit different than you."

As for Frank, who recently took the ACT and hopes to one day become a Memphis Tiger, she wants people to realize that she's no different than them.

"There are some things that we do differently, but that doesn't mean that we have to be treated completely differently," noted Frank.

For more information on how to support, or get involved with Best Buddies Tennessee, visit www.bestbuddiestennessee.org.

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