By Jolie Freedman and Lyndsey Delouya
The Friendship Circle is an international organization that was created to help children with special needs try to live normal lives and have fun. Friendship Circle is located all over the country, but the our local Friendship Circle is at the Chai Center. The program is a gratifying experience for both the kids and the volunteers. The Friendship Circle offers so many varieties of different programs, so everyone is bound to find something that they enjoy doing. The organization’s mission statement is to empower volunteers with the motivation to make a difference. The Friendship Circle tries to make each child feel accepted, comfortable, and give them the chance to establish special friendships.
One program that the club offers is called “Friends at Home.” In this program, dedicated and committed volunteers visit a child with special needs at their house once a week. The volunteer and the child play sports, dance, or do any fun hobbies! The Friendship Circle also offers zumba once a week. A licensed instructor helps to teach the children a fun way to stay in shape. Another similar program that is offered once a week is hip hop. In hip hop, the kids play fun dance games and learn a dance routine that they will perform in a recital at the end of the year. “Bowling Buddies” and “Pet Therapy” are offered, too. Bowling buddies is a program that is offered every Sunday. This program offers bowling, eating, and having fun with the volunteers! “Pet Therapy” is the program that was most recently introduced to the Friendship Circle. This program provides time for the children to play with puppies. Lastly, once a month, there is an event called “Teen Scene.” “Teen Scene” is an enriching program that teaches the children how to feel comfortable and confident in a social group. Each month, there is a different event such as cooking, olympic games, and minute to win it. There are also many other Friendship Circle events organized in order to spread awareness for children with special needs. This year we hope to create a new program offered through Friendship Circle, commonly known as the Color Run.
The Friendship Circle at the Chai Center sponsors a fundraiser called “Smile For A Mile.” The goal of this program is to collect one mile worth of quarters. All of the proceeds will go towards helping special needs children get the technology they need in our community. A lot of volunteers have contributed to this program by bringing coin boxes to school clubs, restaurants, and their parents’ places of employment. The motto of “Smile for a Mile” is “Help us help special needs children by collecting enough quarters to stretch out for a mile!” You can go online to www.thechaicenter.com, and search “Smile for a Mile” to track how close we are to reaching our goal. You are also able to make donations through the website, and you don’t have to stick to strictly quarters. Any and all donations are welcome and very much appreciated.
The Friendship Circle is an amazing out of school program that truly exposes the volunteers to the importance of making a difference in a special needs child’s life. We highly suggest you consider getting involved!
Photo Courtesy of FriendshipCircle Chai on Facebook