Campus recreation programs looking to increase inclusiveness through programming and community service may consider implementing a Friends Day. Montclair State University (NJ) has been sponsoring such an event annually since 2008. It’s focused on inviting young people with physical and intellectual disabilities to the campus rec center for a day of fun, themed programming. Staff and students, along with others, serve as “buddies” to the visitors.

Romayne Eaker-Kelly, the director of Campus Recreation at Montclair State University, has overseen every Friends Days hosted there. “It is a treasured event,” Eaker-Kelly told Campus Rec magazine. “Student leaders over the years from within our department believe it’s the best and most rewarding event we offer our student body. Campus partners look forward to the day and find joy in knowing it’s a day for children and their families to be loved and cared for with a lot of fun for all participants.”

Several recommendations are offered for sponsoring a successful “Friends Day,” including working with reputable organizations, making sure the legal bases are covered, planning in advance, staying organized, creating a theme, casting a wide net, doing “buddy” training and ending the day by inviting family members to participate.

Read more about how to create your own campus rec “Friends Day” here.