Circle of Friends establishes friendships between students with disabilities (ie: Autism, Down Syndrome, etc.) and their non-disabled peers through inclusive meaningful participation on school campuses as well as within their community. This program provides the opportunity for students to acquire, practice and improve social/conversation skills and problem solving strategies in a real world environment which increases self-esteem, thus leading to a more successful adult life.
Family life has been altered by these new friendships. The phone now rings at home and parents see their son/daughter interact with non-disabled friends and have experiences like other teens – every parent's wish! Their children are included with the rest of the world at lunch, after school, and on weekends - eating in restaurants, going to movies, shopping, bowling…the options are endless. Circle of Friends makes dreams come true!!!
As Circle of Friends brings the understanding and acceptance of differences to school campuses and communities through inclusion, bullying is decreasing. Our Ability/Disability Awareness and Anti-Bullying presentations significantly sensitize campuses. With nearly 200 chapters nationwide and our impact on over 65,000 students thus far, together we are making a positive difference in our country.
Parents of students with special needs face challenges on a daily basis. Through parent meetings held two times/year, a support group is established where challenges, experiences, and opportunities are discussed. Each parent brings a wealth of information and parent meetings are the sanctuary in which this knowledge is shared and where feelings are understood.
Circle of Friends, under the fiscal sponsorship of Community Partners, has two distinct goals:
Duplication of the Circle of Friends program on campuses throughout the nation and implementation of a Circle Summer program of inclusion within the West Los Angeles community
Circle of Friends relies on the support and partnership of community members, organizations, businesses and volunteers – contributions are needed for the implementation and expansion of existing and future programs. Thank you for any support you may be able to provide…you will be helping to change lives!!!