Meet Power Buddies MTL, a group of neurodiverse young adults
Posted June 6, 2023 2:54 pm.
Last Updated June 6, 2023 7:27 pm.
There are many ways of referring to a group of friends who get together to hang out or catch up.
But for one group of neurodiverse young adults in Montreal, they call themselves Power Buddies.
“Being Power Buddies makes us all friends, and companions of each other, which gives us inclusion,” said Jason Saxe, a member of Power Buddies.
Power Buddies began as a Zoom meet-up during the height of the pandemic, when most other programs had shut down, allowing participants to continue to take part in physical activity.
“It was isolation and really no sense of socialization or community. Everything kind of shut down overnight,” said Petros Lazanis, the co-founder of Power Buddies.
Lazanies says when health measures were in place, many programs shut down – programs relied upon by members of the group.
Once they were allowed to begin in-person activities, relationships within the group grew stronger.
“What we have here is not just a physical education program… It really is genuinely like a friend group for the past three years,” said Lazanis.
“We’re all here to have fun together,” added Muhan Patel, the group’s other co-founder.
Fahading Paheting, a member of Power Buddies, says whenever he knows he’ll be coming to see his friends, he feels happy and excited.
The group engages in activities like bowling, Zumba in the park, basketball, soccer, and the list goes on.
Paheting says his favourite days out is when the group goes to La Ronde.
Those part of the group are all over the age of 18, something Patel says allows participants to make and maintain quality adult friendships.
“We’re here to be their friend,” said Patel. “We’re here to talk to them about things that they’re curious about. We’re here to talk to them about things that they don’t want to talk to with their parents or with their teachers. And we treat them just like every other adult we come across.”
“I love power buddies,” added Cynthia Davis, the mother of Jonah Davis Yanofsky, who is part of Power Buddies. “It’s so much fun for Jonah, and he has a lovely group,.”
Davis says the program gives her son the chance to socialize in a setting he would have otherwise not been given the chance to.
“For people with autism, like my son, it’s a little bit harder to socialize and to have friends and keep friends and make arrangements with them. So here, it’s every weekend he gets to see friends and do things,” Davis said.
The weekly meet-ups are something Lazanis says he looks forward to.
“I look forward to our activities, and they’re honestly just family to me,” he said. “I’m so grateful for them, and it’s just been a wonderful experience so far, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.”
Both Patel and Lazanis hope to build a centre that allows neurodiverse individuals to live independently.
“A super centre with a gym, with a swimming pool, with an exercise room, with a lounge, a game room, and even housing opportunities for people to learn how to live on their own,” said Patel.