California – Los Angeles: Best Buddies

Shammir Khan

Hailing from Torrance, California, Shammir Khan is a fourth year Biology major hoping to become a pediatrician. Involved in service for nearly eight years, he values it for its ability to shape both volunteers and the communities they serve.. For Khan, service is much more than helping those who are “less fortunate”; it is an opportunity for everyone involved to learn and grow. “It’s about empowering communities, helping each other grow, and working with everyone to create a world that benefits us all,” he says. Khan has continued his efforts to create change this summer as the President of Best Buddies at UCLA.

 

Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization that promotes respect and inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Khan first joined eight years ago, when he was still in high school. He started off as a general volunteer, and then moved into leadership positions, including Membership Director, Vice President, and now President of the UCLA chapter. Khan cites this continued involvement as the catalyst for him becoming a passionate advocate for disability rights and inclusion,both on campus and off. One of his goals is to abolish the stigma surrounding and disrespect towards people with disabilities. Khan hopes we as a community can eliminate the derogatory use of words like “the R word”.



This summer, he attended the 29th annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Indiana, where thousands of eager and devoted volunteers united to learn and share fresh ideas about advocacy and social change in their communities. A typical day was packed with workshops, guest speakers, panels, fun activities, and team bonding. Through his participation, Khan was able to learn about ways to improve Best Buddies at UCLA at various workshops and to motivate other volunteers through passionate guest speakers. One moment during this conference that he found particularly memorable was the opening ceremony. He recalls the infectious energy that filled the auditorium as over 3,000 passionate individuals gathered for the first time. The excited cheering and mass of the crowd made him realize the enormous importance and impact of their mission.



Khan also met with the chapter presidents of USC, UC Irvine, and UC Riverside to brainstorm ideas for action and plan future collaborations. Whether it was through mealtime discussions, late night conversations, or the Friendship Walk, he was especially grateful of the relationships and community this experience built. Khan hopes to take this reinvigorated sense of commitment and determination back to the UCLA community.  “Attending BBLC honestly reminded me that there are thousands of people around the world with the same hopes and dreams about how they want to shape the world,” said Khan. “We are not alone in the work that we do, so it’s important that we stay dedicated, engaged, and educated.”

 

If you are interested, visit their website at www.bbucla.com for more information. To become a member, fill out the organization’s official form at www.bestbuddiesonline.org.

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