For those living with cognitive or developmental disabilities, forming healthy friendships can sometimes be difficult.
They can have a hard time communicating with people who do not have special needs, and they are often the target of stigma, or worse, bullying.
But a local organization is helping to bridge that gap, pairing people with disabilities to others in friendship.
Best Buddies Wisconsin works with people off all ages to facilitate friendship and develop social skills. It works one-on-one with students in middle and high schools, and it also assists college age students who often are isolated because of their disabilities. It offers a separate program for adults seeking friendship, too, called Citizens.
Besides friendship, the organization also helps with job readiness and training for adults.
The nonprofit relies on volunteers who are willing to commit to year of friendship. They undergo an extensive background check to ensure the safety of program participants. And according to State Director Theresa Nemetz, there is a particular need for male volunteers in the Citizens program.
Click the podcast player above to hear our interview with Nemetz, as well as two ladies who began their friendship in the organization.