JABSOM’s Sunny Buddies: Providing a valuable community resource

By Raymond Machi, Peter Deptula, and Be Ho, MD Class of 2015

Sunny Buddies is a community health activity for first-year medical students at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). Adults with intellectual disabilities function as “buddies” to the medical students. The Sunny Buddies help medical students gain a better understanding of an underserved population, while the “buddies” receive much-needed social interaction in a safe and friendly environment.
Fourteen years of friendships
In 1998, Dr. Melissa Bloom started Sunny Buddies while she was a first-year student at JABSOM, and now she serves as faculty advisor. Lori Lutu from Easter Seals Hawai`i provides valuable insight into developing interpersonal skills between the first-year medical students and their buddies.

Med students Be Ho and Mark Pilar line up to knock off some pins at the Ft. Shafter bowling center.

With Halloween on the horizon, we thought we would share a picture of the Sunny Buddies Group taking part in the annual Easter Seals Hawai`i Halloween Event, in 2011 (main photo). Participants enjoyed games and — as you can see — participated in a costume contest.

As a final event for the Class of 2015, the first-year students in our group met at the Fort Shafter Bowl to celebrate the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. We strongly feel the memories we made and the lessons we learned from our Sunny Buddy experience will carry on throughout our medical careers. The Spring Fling was sponsored by a grant from the Office of Student Equity, Excellence, & Diversity at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, for which we are grateful.

To get more information about Sunny Buddies, contact the Hawai`i Easter Seals at EASTER SEALS HAWAI`I.

In our Halloween photo, left to right, pictured are now second-year medical students Raymond Machi, Mark Pilar and his Sunny Buddy Marvin Anderseon, Cole Nishikawa, Peter Deptula and his Sunny Buddy Keith Isobe, and Be Thi Ho.