The first time I met Jason was in grade 11, when I decided to join the best buddies program.
The best buddies program is a program where students eat lunch with other students whom they have never met before, once or twice a week. The program occasionally holds fundraisers for the school, as well as day trips for some of the students involved.
I decided to join the program so that I could meet someone new. I often saw students eating alone in the cafeteria, and I wanted to change that.
The first time we ever hung out was at lunch. The first time I had lunch with Jason, he didn’t say a single word. I felt like I was talking to myself the whole time and answering my own questions. I felt a little bit silly, because I didn’t know if Jason thought I was super lame or if he was just shy. Although slightly discouraged, I continued our weekly meet ups. I was determined to get to know him.
The more time I spent with Jason, the more he started to slowly respond to me. Eventually, I learned that Jason actually wasn’t shy at all; in fact, he was very witty, opinionated, and fun!
On the days that I didn’t spend with Jason, I would commonly go out for lunch with some of my other friends. One day I asked Jason where his favourite place to go for lunch was, and he told me that he had never been out for lunch.
Everyone I knew at the time always went out for lunch. Jason was a senior in high school ….I don’t know why he was never given the opportunity to go out like the rest of us.
The first time I took Jason out for lunch he was a little hesitant at first. It was such a common social activity that seemed so foreign to him. We decided to go to pizza pizza.
We had a really really awesome time.
I truly got to know Jason that day. He is so much like everyone else, and has so much to offer in a friendship. I realized that day that he was the realest friend I had, because he himself was so down to earth, so honest, so thankful, understanding, and forgiving.
Unlike other members of the best buddies program, after Jason graduated, we continued our friendship outside of school. And eventually our families became really close as well. We would go on day trips, have barbeques, and just hang out like any normal teenagers would.
Jason was a dear friend of mine. He taught me so many lessons that I will carry with me forever. His friendship was a blessing to me. I am so glad I was able to share those 3 special years with him.
One of the things that made my friendship with Jason so astounding was the fact that Jason didn’t really let anyone into his life. The unfortunate result of how society viewed his differences had made him somewhat introverted, therefore leading him to be very selective over who he lets in. It’s strange to think that someone with such a wonderful personality, with so much to offer, did not have many friends.
I want everyone to know that inclusion and acceptance is just one step away from meeting someone who can change your life for the better. I feel like this website, and our stories will help to spread the word that physical differences should not limit somebody’s worth. Physical differences should not change the way society views their ability to live a normal life. Sometimes I wish more people got to know the real Jason, because he was a really awesome person.
With this, I do strongly believe that his legacy will now live forever through our stories, through the difference we make, and through his rose. He will continue to inspire more and more people, and hopefully together, we can put a stop to exclusion, and spread the word of inclusion.
I have resolve.