When Kylie Schreck was in high school, she helped teach a girl who couldn’t speak how to communicate with her eyes. The girl, whose name is Kiley, has a genetic brain disorder that impairs verbal communication. But after working together for a year, Schreck and Kiley learned how to communicate using a device that tracked Kiley’s eye movements to form sentences.
“The first thing we talked about was how she was feeling, which was something she couldn’t communicate before,” said Schreck, now a third-year student studying human services at Northeastern. “Seeing the progress that we made and the impact I could have on someone else’s life, that’s when I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”
Today Schreck is the president of Northeastern’s chapter of Best Buddies, an organization that supports and mentors people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from communities in and around Boston. Above all, though, Schreck said the organization is about friendship.
“I remember one of our buddy’s parents told me, ‘I’ve been waiting for the day when I get a call from another parent saying their kid wants to have a playdate with mine. I’ve been waiting for that day ever since my son was enrolled in school,’” Schreck said. “The friendships are so important to our buddies, to their parents, and to me.”
Northeastern students meet one-on-one with their buddies and host group activities. In October, they painted pumpkins, and last year they attended a Disney on Ice show and hosted a winter dance.
“The dance last year was really great because we partnered with other Best Buddies chapters in Boston and got to meet other buddies,” Schreck said. “I remember everyone smiling and laughing the whole night.”
Schreck described one buddy who has made a lasting impression on her during her three years in the group: “One of our older buddies, he’s in his forties, he always comes in with a smile no matter what, and he always turns my mood around if I’m not having a good day.”
Best Buddies is part of the university’s “Give, Inspire, Transform” campaign to raise money for student groups dedicated to improving the lives of people in local communities.
Schreck said that she hopes the group can host more events that take the buddies to new places. “We really want to get them out and about and give them the opportunity to have different experiences,” she said.
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