Today, we had our first buddy event at the park. Me and my buddy partner, Katherine were so excited to meet our buddy, Weslyn and get to know her more. When she arrived she immediately recognized us from the pictures we sent her in the mail and her face lit up as she ran and gave us a big hug. There was an immediate connection between the three of us as we laughed, talked, and sang ‘Frozen’ songs at the top of our lungs! Weslyn and I are both fourteen so I’m really looking forward to growing our friendship and hanging out like I would with any of my other friends. From that first giant hug, Weslyn welcomed Katherine and I into her life with open arms and fully accepted the two of us as her friends and playmates. Not only do we as teens get to demonstrate acceptance with our buddies by celebrating their differences, we also get to experience the genuine acceptance our buddy shows us. Weslyn didn’t care that I had paint on my shirt or that I was singing ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman’ at a pitch two octaves above what you would (generously) consider audible to the human ear. There was not a single crazy dance move I could have made that would lose her approval. It was beautiful and liberating and such a special space for me to be in. Weslyn and all the other buddies are some of the most authentic, kind, and open-minded people you will ever meet. As I think about the year ahead–wow, I am so grateful.