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Program Description

Circle of Friends (CoF) is a social and language skills program that provides valuable support to students with special needs.

CoF provides support and strategies for educators to create opportunities for socially isolated students that reduce isolation and increase connection. 

Our School Inclusion Program establishes friendships between students impacted by disability or adversity and their non-disabled peers as both interact meaningfully in the natural environment.


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Program Components


  • Administrators attend Circle of Friends orientation, then Advisors (Special & General Ed teachers, counselors SLPs, school psychologists) receive additional training to implement our School Inclusion Program on their campuses.


  • Advisors select and connect peers in general education classes to students who are socially isolated because of disability or other challenges.


  • Through meaningful group activities, circles of 2-3 peers learn about their new friends and identify common interests.


  • Students of all abilities commit to weekly lunches for the rest of the school year and develop genuine friendships.


  • Advisors provide  support as needed to the peer volunteers.  Students develop 21st Century skills like emotional intelligence, problem-solving and teamwork.


  • Monthly participation in school events promotes awareness and acceptance for all students.


  • As CoF grows, inclusive Student Leadership Teams help Advisors plan and manage the program, including activities outside of school, presentations on ability awareness, and a year-end celebration.


Program Impact


  • Educators feel more competent, develop positive relationships, and see potential in all their students.


  • Students who once felt invisible now look forward to school and Circle of Friends. Their social communication improves through regular practice with peers.


  • Students advocate for their school to be a kinder place for all, and administrators report a reduction in bullying.


  • Parents of CoF students are encouraged to volunteer. Many see their children in a new light, and their relationship with school staff improves.


  • All participants increase their awareness, understanding, and acceptance of differences.


Circle of Friends promotes an inclusive culture

that welcomes and values all students. 

Here's a video of how our partners in Imperial County

have implemented our program:


Download our

Info Packet

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