Another year is coming to a close and at Friendship Circle that means we take a look back at the year that was and start preparing for another year of creating amazing programs and raising awareness for individuals with special needs. Before we dive head-first into 2013 we would like to share some of our top highlights from 2012.
Here we go!
1. Lose The Training Wheels
When a child rides a bicycle without training wheels for the first time, it is one of the most exciting and memorable experiences in their young life. This summer, Friendship Circle partnered withLose The Training Wheels to make that experience a reality for children with special needs. In just five days over 35 children and teens with special needs learned how to ride a two wheeled bike with the help of 50 out-of-breath volunteers. Check out the amazing pictures here.
2. Extreme Makeover Special Needs Edition
Friendship Circle reached out to Liliya, a 21 year old girl with Cerebral Palsy with the thing she craved most; Friends and independence. In just one short week Friendship Circle with the help of several local businesses rented and remodeled a studio suite complete with every amenity you could ask for. Check out the video and photos here.
3. Friendship Circle Gives Away 18 Bikes In The Great Bike Giveaway
Friendship Circle teamed up With adaptive bike companies to give away 18 adaptive bikes to children with special needs. Presented as a voting contest on Facebook 150 people submitted their stories and why their child with special needed a bike. The contest received over 50,000 votes and most importantly gave the chance for children with special needs to ride a special bike. See some of the winners, here, here, and here.
4. Friendship Circle Launches Upstander
Taking our work with teens to another level Friendship Circle launched Upstander,an anti-bullying program that is designed to focus on prevention and intervention. The Upstander curriculum employs fun, exciting, and thought provoking activities to build an environment of trust and understanding. Through this consistent eight week program students are brought to an understanding of what negative peer behavior is and what they can do about it in their circles. Currently The Upstander Program is currently running in nine High Schools in the Metro Detroit Area and growing quickly. Check out media coverage of Upstander here.
5. Friendship Circle Director Named To The Forward 50
Each year, The Jewish Daily Forward awards 50 individuals throughout America with a spot in the “Forward 50.” These individuals represent Jewish Americans that have been influential news makers throughout the year. This year, Bassie Shemtov, the co-founder and Director of Friendship Circle, was chosen to receive this prestigious recognition for leading Friendship Circle from a single chapter in Michigan to a nationwide movement. Read More Here
6. Friendship Circle Blog Reaches New Heights
Friendship Circle started a blog (the one you are currently reading) in 2010 to provide essential special needs resources and information to parents and special educators. The blog provides tips from parents, therapists and special educators on such topics as parenting, therapy, special education and other great resources. In 2012 over 500,000 readers visited the blog to learn and share about their special needs experiences. Visit the blog at friendshipcircle.org/blog.
7. Friendship Circle Voted Best Special Needs Regional Resource
In 2012 Friendship Circle was chosen as the About.Com Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite Special-Needs Regional Resource. This contest highlights the best products, features and services across a wide variety of topics. In this year’s contest there were 8 special needs voting categories with Friendship Circle in the Favorite Regional Resource Category. The Readers Choice Awards are hosted by About.Com a New York Times Company and 35th Biggest Website in the United States.
8. A Dream Trip To Cedar Point
50 children with special needs were given the opportunity to experience the thrill of merry-go-rounds, roller coasters and much more at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky Ohio. Check out the video and pictures here to see the special experience these children had.
9. Documentary Produced About Friendship Circle
Over the summer a documentary was made about Friendship Circle. The Circle Never Ends is a documentary presented by Channel 7 WXYZ. This film documents the visionary work of Friendship Circle and their ongoing efforts to promote a community of inclusion. Watch the documentary here.
10. Four Weeks Of Summer Camp
For the first time ever Friendship Circle held a four week summer camp for children with special needs. Our summer camp is an innovative four week program that combined learning critical social skills with a traditional, fun camp experience. Check out the pictures here.