Annemarie Carrigan is nothing short of determined. Blessed with many friends and an incredible support system, Annemarie has embraced her differences and challenges with grace. But she realized early on that not all students with special needs have that kind of community, so she and her mother, Emily, set out to make a change.
Emily Carrigan had heard many times about the Best Buddies International program, and loved their mission of “ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” She could clearly see how the one-to-one peer program would be a perfect fit for Highland Park High School where Annemarie was attending. Met with some doubts about funding and involvement, Emily pushed the idea forward and found more than enough support for the program, and by Annemarie’s junior year of high school, the Best Buddies program was up and running at Highland Park High School.
Highland Park ISD has embraced the Best Buddies program at the middle school and high school levels, offering students the opportunity to participate in two one-to-one activities per month, as well as group outings.
As a Best Buddies International ambassador, Annemarie has offered her help and advice to the HPISD chapter, and even attended the organization’s national convention. This year Annmarie also graduated from the University of Central Missouri’s Thrive program and is working on getting her driver’s license and applying for jobs back in Dallas. Her persistence and hard work is paying off as she takes steps toward independence.
Emily also takes time to share what she has learned as a parent of a special needs child. She meets with new parents who have just given birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome at the Down’s Syndrome Clinic at Children’s Health in Dallas. Parents meet with an OT, PT, Nurse, Doctor, social worker and Emily who represents the Down Syndrome Guild to answer questions such as, “What is is like to raise a child born with DS?”.
“I want to give moms hope and let them know that they don’t have put limits on kids – they can go anywhere.”
To get involved in the Highland Park ISD chapter of Best Buddies, you can learn about the membership requirements.
If you know someone who is Doing Good in Dallas, we’d love to hear about it! Share their story with us.