NASSAU, The Bahamas (July 8, 2014) – Today, teachers and volunteers from Baha Mar’s Leadership Development Institute (LDI) began a twoday training seminar to welcome four students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) into the training and recruitment program. The students will also participate in the training seminar to prepare them for the classes scheduled to begin on July 21st.
The students will join LDI through Best Buddies, an international volunteer program that will be implemented at Baha Mar and will be the first of its kind in The Bahamas. Best Buddies, a program founded at Georgetown University in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, partners with organizations throughout the United States and in 50 countries around the world to assist with training and creating integrated social and employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities such as Autism or Down syndrome. Through the program, people with IDDs are paired with ‘Buddies’ that provide guidance and support, establishing meaningful friendships and enabling them to lead more active and independent lives.
Candidates for the upcoming LDI class were identified and selected with assistance from local IDD advocates including Dr. Michelle Major, Director of the Seahorse Institute, a non-profit organization that provides treatment for people with Autism and other developmental delays, and Mario Carey, President of R.E.A.C.H. Bahamas, an autism support group. Each IDD student will be paired with a student Buddy for the duration of the 16-week class session. If they successfully complete the program, they will also receive a job offer at Baha Mar.
The integration of Best Buddies with LDI has received strong support from local advocate groups as well as the parents and guardians of the students.
According to Denise Godreau, Baha Mar Chief Marketing Officer and parent of a child with IDD, the integration of the Best Buddies program with the Leadership Development Institute is a natural expression of Baha Mar’s inclusive culture.
“Baha Mar is committed to having a transformative impact on our guests, employees and the country. Best Buddies extends the economic impact of Baha Mar to people with disabilities to enable them to become more integrated into mainstream society,” said Godreau.
“Everyone can be part of the Baha Mar Dream Team if they have a heart for hospitality.”