Left photo: Jared McGhee enjoys hanging out with his best buddy, Todd Roy. Jared, who has autism, is a Best Buddy ambassador at his school. The two met through the Jacksonville, Fla., branch of Best Buddies, which helps students form friendships with peers who do not have special needs. Right photo: Jared’s dad, Agent Joe McGhee, is also one of Jared’s best buddies.
Children and teens with special needs often struggle to fit in socially.
Agent Joe McGhee, Jacksonville, Fla, knows because his 17-year-old son, Jared, has autism.
Jared has benefited from his association with Best Buddies, an organization that assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization helps Jared cultivate friendships, learn how to conduct job searches and perfect communication skills.
“Best Buddies has enabled my son to learn to speak up during group situations and attend dance socials with his Best Buddy, Todd, and other Best Buddies,” Joe says. “Best Buddies also encourages Jared to have more one-on-one relationships with his peers. They host various events throughout the year that allow Jared and his Buddies to have fun at gatherings and on friendship walks.”
Joe is active in the organization, both as a parent and as a State Farm® agent.
“Jared has become more socially well-adjusted and verbal since connecting with Best Buddies,” he says. “I’m proud of him and the progress he has made.”