“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…”Colossians 3:23
Last week was my second week of my Turner Fellowship at the Best Buddies of Tennessee office. Like my first week, I continued to help plan and prepare for Best Buddies’ events that will take place this summer. At the end of July, all Best Buddies chapters from every state attend an event called Leadership Conference, where chapter presidents, ambassadors, and select chapter members participate in various group activities and listen to different speakers in order to strengthen their leadership skills and grow their passion for Best Buddies. This year, I will not only attend Leadership Conference, but I am coordinating and leading the Best Buddies of Tennessee chapter for LC. Leadership Conference (LC) lasts from July 19-22 and will occur at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Each year at LC, the bravest Best Buddies ambassadors, the passionate Best Buddies members with special abilities, create a speech about their life story, how Best Buddies changed their life, and why people should join Best Buddies. By perfecting and then later presenting their speech at LC, there is a chance that they could be chosen by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the Best Buddies founder, to become an International Ambassador, where they will internationally represent Best Buddies. This week, I helped an ambassador, Kara, write her speech for LC. Helping Kara write her speech was the highlight of my week because I loved hearing her perspective of the amazing work Best Buddies has done in her school and in schools around the country. I also continued to help other ambassadors write their letters for LC, which will passed out at various times during the event to welcome, empower, and encourage everyone attending LC.
Talking to these ambassadors have truly changed my perspective of Best Buddies because it has caused me to become more aware of how to create fully inclusive environments and has grown my appreciation of my friends. Listening to them explain how Best Buddies has been a true blessing in their lives because of the best friends it has brought them that they didn’t have before, was something I wasn’t expecting to hear, but actually strengthened my admiration of the Best Buddies foundation. The ambassadors expressing their love for their friends and the reasons why everyone should feel loved and appreciated is an important lesson and memory from my Turner Fellowship that I’ll never forget. I have never met any other people who have had a greater appreciation of their friends and have experienced more happiness due to an organization that allowed them to grow their self confidence and become comfortable in their own skin.