Best Buddies
Ask Emerson Online with... Interactive Moment
Robert Plante

Online with: Robert Plante
By Sheila Tracy

Robert Plante, e-Buddy and Special Olympics Athlete, takes time out to talk to e-Buddies about the thrill of e-mail, making a new friend, and why learning to use a computer wasn't so hard after all.

e-Buddies: What is the best thing about having an e-Buddy?

Robert Plante: It makes me feel good that I am a part of a program, that I can be a part of someone else's life and e-mail at the same time. It makes me feel good that I have someone far away who cares how I am doing.

e-Buddies: What do you and your e-Buddy talk about?

Robert Plante: We talk about the things we like to do. We like to talk about sports, like basketball and hockey and baseball. Right now we are talking about the World Series. His team is the Mets. We both want them to beat the Yankees.

e-Buddies: Why do you think e-Buddies is a good idea for people with mental retardation?

Robert Plante: It's a good idea because it makes you feel good to have someone to communicate with and keep in touch with. It is really exciting to open your e-mail and see that someone has taken the time to write just to you. It is really neat. And knowing how to e-mail is great, because then you can write to your friends. People love hearing from me.

e-Buddies: Sometimes people form opinions about people who have mental retardation and what they are capable of, without really getting to know them. Do you think that e-Buddies helps people get past that?

Robert Plante: My e-Buddy and me, we are learning that we are a lot a like. He might not have known an athlete like me before, but I think he thinks of me like I am any other friend. And I am.

e-Buddies: How did you learn to use a computer? Were you nervous about using a computer?

Robert Plante: Any time you do something you haven't done, it can be pretty scary. But I really wanted to do it. Everyone knew I could do it. I had a tutor through the high school, and then I went to the local college to learn how to e-mail. Learning to use the right keys, remembering to press the same ones all the time, that was hard. Once you get used to it though, it is easy. But, I had to practice a lot.

e-Buddies: How much time does it take for you to write to your e-Buddy?

Robert Plante: It takes me about 10-15 minutes to write a good length e-mail to Bill

e-Buddies: Have you learned anything through your experience with e-Buddies?

Robert Plante: I've learned all about someone's life - someone I would have never met otherwise, you know. It helps me be a better communicator too.

e-Buddies: What do you think your e-Buddy gets out of your relationship?

Robert Plante: I think it makes him feel good to know what a big part of my life he his, and how he makes me feel so special. Also, it gives him exciting stuff to tell his friends. It makes him feel good to be an e-Buddy.

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