Saddlewood’s Best Buddies Program: Fostering Inclusion and Kindness in Every Friendship

students posing in front of a large bulletin board that says be kind.
Saddlewood students in the best buddies program worked together to create this bulletin board of kindness.

Saddlewood Elementary is currently implementing an initiative that extends beyond traditional classrooms and textbooks– the Best Buddies program. This after school club is dedicated to fostering friendships and promoting inclusion within the Saddlewood school community.

Best Buddies students working together.
Best Buddies students working together.

Beth Panucci and Kathryn Nixon Davis bring a wealth of experience and passion to their roles as co-advisors, steering the Best Buddies program towards success. Their commitment to the mission of the national Best Buddies program, which aims to create opportunities for friendship and inclusion for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is evident in the program’s flourishing participation with 74 participants strong.

Under the co-advisors’ leadership, the Best Buddies program at Saddlewood has become a beacon of camaraderie, where students actively engage with their buddies, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

“In December, our students collaborated on aspects of the 75 Acts of Kindness bulletin board,” said Davis. This board is now showcased behind Saddlewood’s front doors and has become a tangible reflection of the program’s commitment to kindness and positive impact in our school community.” 

The activities of the school’s program not only strengthen friendships but also foster a sense of unity among students, highlighting the importance of empathy, understanding, and shared experiences.

“Beth and I love having Best Buddies at Saddlewood because we are lucky to have a diverse range of learning and social needs at our school,” said Davis. “We feel it is important for the Saddlewood school community to understand at a young age how to interact and help those who may be different then them. We want to continue to provide a fun, relaxed environment for students, no matter their ability, to develop positive relationships with others outside their everyday classroom setting.”

More information about Best Buddies can be found here: