BY RAYNALD C RIVERA
DOHA: Eighty percent of universities and colleges in Qatar are currently involved actively in Best Buddies, an international non-profit organisation aimed at integrating people with intellectual disabilities into society.
“Best Buddies Qatar started in 2008 and since then we have established clubs in 80 percent of all universities in the country,” said Rania Abou Ghaida, College Programme Coordinator, Best Buddies Qatar.
Launched under the umbrella of Shafallah Centre for Children with Special Needs, Best Buddies Qatar has been playing an important role integrating special needs people through programmes which enhance their lives through one-to-one friendship and employment.
“We have five programmes — Best Buddies High School, College, Citizens, Jobs and e-Buddies — all aimed to socially integrate people with intellectual disabilities,” said Abou Ghaida.
Under the programme, a person with intellectual disability creates friendship with a person with such disability.
“The peer buddies speak every week, go out together once a month and attend all activities that we do inside and outside our organisation throughout the year,” she said, adding among the upcoming events are participation at the Message of HOPE this week and an event at the Qatar University (QU) on National Sport Day.
The Best Buddies jobs programme helps those who have graduated from Shafallah Centre find employment, she stressed.
Among the universities Best Buddies have presence include College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNAQ), QU, most of Qatar Foundation universities and Stenden University Qatar (SUQ), the latter organised an event yesterday at Aspire Dome.
Called ‘Together We Care’, yesterday’s event saw Best Buddies members from Shafallah, QU, Global Academy International Qatar and SUQ interact in various activities such as ceramics painting, sports competitions, face painting, henna and puppet theatre, among others.
The event was part of SUQ’s study module for students of event management in which they organise a main activity themselves in the second semester, said Simone Arnheiter, Head of Marketing at SUQ.
“This year the focus is on enhancing our social events. That’s why we have chosen Best Buddies to give our students and society more awareness about Shafallah Centre and their students,” said Arnheiter.
Arnheiter said it was also part of the school’s corporate social responsibility programme.
Twenty SUQ students organised the event from concept, planning and marketing to finding sponsors and executing the event, she added. Stenden University Qatar has 480 students of 42 nationalities, over 50 percent of whom are Qataris.