“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” -Henry Ford
If one friend can bring out the best in somebody, imagine how much could be accomplished if friends from around the world encouraged and supported one another? For many children and young adults living with disabilities, such a dream is a reality through Friendship Circle International.
Friendship Circle International’s mission is to provide happiness and compassion to children with disabilities and young adults through the kindness of the organization’s teen volunteers. Friendship Circle, through its more than 80 regional chapters, connects volunteers to children with special needs, to promote a sense of altruism, companionship, and confidence. The organization’s mission is achieved by implementation of several programs.
Friends@Home: Each week, two trained volunteers provide home visits to children with special needs. During these one or two hour visits, the teen volunteers share stories, play games or enjoy music with the children.
Camp: Winter and summer camps are offered to families of children with special needs. The camps not only offer friendship and recreational activities for the children but also provide respite to families and caregivers.
Holiday Programs: The Holiday Programs engages families in the education of the Jewish heritage. It also provides an opportunity to connect to the community through such traditions.
Sports Night: Volunteers and coaches guide participants through a variety of sports activities.
Sibling Support Programs: Siblings of children with special needs also need support with their own lives, and the Sibling Support Programs provides a healthy outlet to socialize and learn the skills necessary to improve the challenges they may face.
Life Skills: Professionals work with volunteers to help acclimate children with special needs to the challenges of the outside world. One way this is achieved is by accompanying participants in public spaces, to help build confidence in attending to daily activities that will be part of their adult lives.
In addition to these programs, Friendship Circle participates in other activities that enrich the lives of those in their communities. “Walk4Friendship” allows friends, family, and volunteers to show their solidarity and raise funds for their cause. If you would like to find a local chapter of Friendship Circle, visit their website at Friendship Circle.
Image credit: Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash