Who Is My Neighbor? Inc. is proud to serve as the fiscal agent of Buddy Ball Highland Park.
June 2009: Thanks to the efforts of seventh grader Harry Landis, Buddy Ball has come to Highland Park. Buddy Basketball finished its first season in June 2009, with 21 Buddies (special needs children) and over 40 Pals (teen volunteers) participating. Buddy Ball provides individuals who have mental or physical disabilities the opportunity to play team sports. Each Buddy is paired with a Pal (or two!) to assist them with acquiring sports skills and playing in modified games at weekly team practices.
Harry and his family visited Buddy Ball programs in other towns to see how to organize it in Highland Park. Instead of gifts at his Bar Mitzvah, Harry asked people to donate money to be used for purchasing sports equipment, renting gyms, paying referees, and buying team shirts. His plan raised over $18,000 — sufficient to operate Buddy Ball for several years. A fall season of Buddy Ball Soccer is in the works, as well as winter and/or spring 2010 Buddy Basketball. Who Is My Neighbor Inc. congratulates Harry for creating wonderful ways for special needs children in our community to get involved in team sports, and for motivating a wide cross-section of teens to perform an important community service. Both the Buddies and the Pals greatly enjoyed their team time together. We look forward to the many successful seasons of Buddy Ball to come.
September 2009: Pals (teen volunteers) and Buddies (kids with special needs) begin an 8 week season of one-to-one fun when Highland Park’s first Buddy Soccer gets underway Sept. 26 on the turf field at HPHS. Buddy Ball, a nationwide program that allows kids with disabilities to enjoy team sports, was started locally last spring by middle school student Harry Landis, who raised the money to cover all expenses – team shirts, trophies, etc. – through his bar mitzvah. This makes the program free to Buddies as well as to Pals. Who Is My Neighbor Inc. serves as the fiscal agent.
A successful season of Buddy Basketball last spring convinced the organizers to next try an outdoor sport. The 8:30 to 10 a.m. Buddy Soccer sessions are rain or shine, utilizing indoor space nearby in case of rain. Buddies as well as Pals need parent signature to sign up.
Buddies may live in HP or surrounding communities. Pals must be age 12 or older. Each Pal coaches a Buddy, teaching the skills, rules and attitudes for playing the game. Pals do not need to be good at soccer. Their job is to give their Buddy attention, friendship, encouragement, and patience, helping them through the group skills practice and the scrimmages. High-fives, positive reinforcement, and addressing the Buddy by name are the order of the day. Buddies thrive in this arrangement, making visible progress week to week — exciting and rewarding to the Pals, the Buddies, and the Buddies’ parents.