Circle of Friends (CoF) is a school inclusion program that builds genuine friendships between students with special needs and their general education peers.
Students with developmental and physical disabilities (e.g., autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc.) will often eat lunch alone, isolated and ignored by general education classmates. When not alone, they are typically interacting only with other youth with special needs…unsure of how to connect with the mainstream and lacking strong peer role models.
CoF increases the understanding, acceptance and appreciation of individual differences while decreasing bullying. At all grade levels, our program facilitates the creation of a and welcoming school environment, one that embraces diversity.
Through inclusive, meaningful participation on school campuses and within communities, CoF enables students with disabilities to observe, acquire, practice and improve conversation and social skills, as well as problem-solving strategies, in the real-world environment. Self-esteem, capability and confidence, and joy through companionship are boosted, often leading to a more successful adult life.
Watch the 2008 About Us Video
For youth with disabilities, the phone now rings at home and they are included with non-disabled friends at lunch, after school, and on weekends—eating in restaurants, going to movies, shopping, bowling…the possibilities are endless. And parents see their son/daughter evolving socially while having fun experiences like typical teens; it’s a dream come true! With CoF, all students benefit.