You are here
Friendship Circle's mission is to empower the next generation to shape a world in which people with special needs and their families experience acceptance, inclusion and friendship as contributing members of society.
Our goals are:
- To meet the social and emotional needs of children with special needs.
- To ease the isolation often felt in families with children with special needs.
- To engage teens in the lives of young people with special needs.
- To create meaningful opportunities for young people with and without disability to be a part of and lead their communities.
For funders and families with a child with a special need who are looking for impact, social interaction and programming, NSW Friendship Circle is the best because they:
- Build enduring friendships between volunteers and young people with special needs
- Run programs that build integration and inclusiveness
- Deliver real impact and respite
Build enduring friendships between volunteers and young people with special needs
At Friendship Circle we don’t have carers, we engage young volunteers from the community to become involved with individuals living with a disability. By bringing these groups together we are creating a space to build long lasting friendships and thereby increase integration.
Critical to Friendship Circle is the harnessing of our volunteer’s (aged 12 to 30) energy, personality and interests to bring real care, concern and friendships. While at the same time the volunteers experience personal growth, maturity and benefit from understanding and learning about disabilities in our community.
The ongoing contact between these two groups has a significant impact in promoting tolerance and understanding and breaking down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice and social isolation. A network of peers is created who share a commitment to removing barriers to the participation of everyone in the community as equally valued and unique individuals.
The value of Friendship Circle is that by bringing together a group of passionate like-minded young people as volunteers, the community at large benefits. As they move forward into adulthood, their sense of commitment, compassion and contributing for the benefit of others, continues in a tangible and powerful way.
Run programs that build integration and inclusiveness
All Friendship Circle programs have been designed to allow our individuals the chance to interact with regular daily life. Rather than teaching “how to do things” in an artificial environment they experience regular social interactions.
Each of our programs and activities are planned by age group with the goal that they would be considered relevant and interesting for all abilities – disabled or not. Specifically for our 5 – 12 year old’s its about ‘playing and interacting with their environment’; 12 – 18 year olds, it’s a focus on ‘life skills and adventures’ and young adults (18+) is a focus on life skills, employment skills and health and wellness.
Across the year we offer: Weekly home visits, Regular Sunday social activities, Weekly drumming circle, Community sport days, Holiday day camps, Overnight adventure camps, Shabbatons, Weekly Baking social enterprise programs, Community education, School workshops and a Yearly Friendship Walk Awareness Day.
Programs are reviewed annually and Friendship Circle maintains a flexible and dynamic approach to ensuring the programs are relevant to the interests of the specificagegroup. Feedbackfromtheparticipants,theirfamiliesandtheteen volunteers is valued and incorporated in planning. In addition as part of the Friendship Circle International we have affiliation and access to worldwide resources of over 90 other Circle’s who are building best practice programs and activities.
Deliver real impact and respite
At the heart of Friendship Circle is the desire to make a difference rather than provide a service. Our core belief is that “everyone has a soul and deserves to be valued for who they are” and we are strongly committed to trying to achieve that goal.
We have been delivering real local impact since 2007. We have had over 500 volunteers since inception and of those 160 are still actively involved. In addition a number of our alumni are now involved in other community based programs or have found their true life calling based on their experiences at Friendship Circle.
We have also impacted 55 families with children living with a disability. Through our programs families not only experience real community support (less social isolation and stigmatisation) but also they also gain real respite and engaged children. They also gain a real network of support within the community. Families consistently speak so positively and warmly about their involvement with Friendship Circle, it is clear we are able to have a real impact on their lives.
We have real friendships that have been built out of programs that outside friendship circle.