Tag Archives: programs

Cooking Up Kitchen Skills

On the last day of the winter session of the Cooking program, I walked into the multipurpose room in the basement of Friendship Circle and I saw staff members setting up five round tables. They were laying out platters of brightly colored fruit that had been cut into bite sizes and they had stacks of paper plates, wood skewers, bowls, napkins and plasticware already set out in the center of each round table. On the rectangular tables in the back of the room, where the kids and their family visitors were crowding around the craft tables, I saw blank canvas bags and markers. As the kids sat down and used the markers to decorate the bags, I found Robin Danto, the program’s facilitator, standing up in the front of the room next to the handwritten schedule on a large white board.  I asked her to tell me about the weekly schedule and Cooking Program overall.

Robin Danto during program

Robin Danto watching cooking participants make fruit kabobs.

Weekly Checklist

Danto explained that the Cooking program focuses on kitchen skills; like mixing, measuring and nutrition.  They also learn kitchen safety; like the importance of cleanliness and hand washing.

Wash hands before preparing food

Hand washing before preparing food.

Every week there is a specific menu with a lesson for the group to learn and a craft that correlates to that lesson. The kids come in and sit down to work on the craft, then they move onto food prep and after the food is prepared, they eat it.  Once they have eaten and cleaned up, the group comes together to make a graph of the week. For example, when they tried the different colored bell peppers a few weeks ago for the “taste the rainbow” lesson, the group graphed who liked the red peppers more than green peppers. The craft for the same lesson was a bracelet with colored beads to represent all of colors that should be included in every meal.

I spoke with Stacy Larson, the mother of Conner Larson, one of the kids in the program.  I asked her about her son’s experience in Cooking. She said, “He hadn’t told me about the crafts, he mostly tells me about the food. He is into the food!  He tells me what he made, what he ate, what he tried and what he liked and didn’t like. This is his most favorite thing to do of the whole week!”

Looking at recipe book

Stacy, Conner and volunteer look at the recipes that the group made during the six weeks

Exploring new tastes, textures and skills

For the final meal of the winter session, the group made fruit kabobs served with marshmallow dip.  “They’re going to have to choose the fruits and put them on a skewer and then they’re going to have to mix up the dip. It’s made with marshmallow fluff, milk and cream cheese. They will measure out the ingredients and mix it up and then they get eat it. That is probably their favorite part.” Danto explained when I asked her about the day’s activities.

Cooking Program fruit kabobs

Special Needs Coordinator, Jenna Simard, with program participants

Measuring, mixing and trying new things are all skills that the kids in the cooking program are challenged to do, but Larson explained that isn’t all Conner gets from the program.  “He’s excited about the cooking and trying new foods, but what he’s learned is, following directions. It’s good for his math and number awareness because they have to follow numbers and he’s not been very great with numbers, so this helps.” Larson said.

Recipes for Kids

Conner looking at recipe book

Conner Larson looking at his recipe book

The program coordinator put together books of all of the recipes that the kids had made during the session.  As he flipped through his book of recipes, I asked Conner to tell me what he had made this year. “Everything in my book really.” He replied.

“What was your favorite?” I asked.

“This was my favorite!” He exclaimed while pointing to the Oatmeal and Fruit recipe.  Then he flipped the page to next recipe and said, “I like all of them.”

On the other side of the room, I found Galia Avramov and her children. Her daughter, Ariana or Ari, is in the Cooking program and today the family came to see what she has learned and see her get her certificate. When I asked Avramov what Ariana had learned in the program, she said, “She brings home some of the things she makes here and then she tries them with her brother. They try different things on weekends. They like to cook breakfast together. They made omelettes last weekend and it was perfect! They really enjoy doing it together.”

Making Fruit kabobs

Ariana Avramov and her brother making fruit kabobs alongside Robin Danto.

A Successful Session   

Danto said, “I think we’ve had a lot of successes. The students have been enthusiastic for the most part and have learned a lot. They have gone out of their comfort zone and tried new things; whether it be herbs that they’ve never tasted or vegetables. They really have found somethings that they like and never thought that they would ever even try. So it’s been very successful this year.”

Cooking Program winter session 2016 group photo

Cooking Program winter session 2016 group photo

This winter session met once a week for six weeks and the kids in the program made six crafts, had six lessons on food and safety and they made six meals. On the last day of the program each child received a certificate to commemorate their accomplishment, they were given a recipe book with all of the recipes they made during the session and they were each given a portioned dinner plate to remind them that half of their plate should be fruits and vegetables at every meal.  

If you are interested to learning more about our programs please visit www.friendshipcircle.org/programs to see what we offer.    

Bakery Skills participants working

Bakery Skills program teaches employable skills

Walk into the Jewish Community Center on a Thursday evening and you can smell the baking challah bread wafting from the catering kitchen. That means the Friendship Bakery is in action!

The Friendship Bakery is a transitional program which is dedicated to preparing its participants for securing and maintaining a job in the community, specifically within the restaurant business.

Let us introduce you to Alexa Morris, Jordan Weinfeld and Ben Nadis, all of whom were involved with Friendship Circle when they were younger and are now participants in the Bakery Skills program.

Weinfeld heard about the opportunity with Friendship Bakery from his connections in Friendship Circle. “I gave it a try and I think it’s just the best thing I ever did because it gave me a perspective on a way to live and way to see others for who they are. I really like that about the Friendship Bakery.” Weinfeld said.

There are three areas of this program and each section offers different levels of hands on learning depending on the skill and ability of the participant. The first section is dough prep. In dough prep the participants follow a recipe and weigh, measure and add the ingredients to create and prep the dough for the next section. Baking actually takes place in the second section and participants are responsible for applying the egg wash to the dough, putting the dough in the oven, setting a timer and pulling the bread out when it is done. In the third section the participants sell the baked Challah to customers and receive a small commission for each loaf they sell.

Weinfeld has been in the bakery program since 2013 and has worked all three areas of the program. His experience and expertise have put him in a position to be a leader to others in the program. He encourages his fellow participants and assists with questions and issues that may arise during the process. “We learn those skills here, how to bake. I think it is a really great skill to have. It shows people that we can do things and that we’re capable and that we’re so much more than people give us credit for. I think it is a wonderful thing for the community and us to do and I’m really proud to be here!” Weinfeld said.

This program meets weekly and takes place in a professional kitchen. The participants acquire skills such as measuring, identification of ingredients, correct use of equipment, kitchen safety and cleanliness and basic business management.

“What I like about the program is that I’ve learned different skills. I learned how to braid, how to weigh and be a team player and help people if they need my help.” Nadis explained. “If I keep doing this, I might actually work in a bakery one day, if I decide too.”

In the kitchen, Ben is breaking eggs into a pitcher

Ben breaking eggs for the Dough Prep

Alexa Morris came to the Bakery Skills program because of her history with Friendship Circle and she discovered a passion for cooking. She took the skills she learned in the program and found employment in a professional kitchen. “[This program] has helped me learn more about weighing and measurement. You need to know about those things when you are in a real kitchen. I started working at a kitchen, that has also helped me a lot too. It’s another step [toward] being more independent. It’s helped me gain the understanding of where that level can be.”

Friendship Bakery participant Alexa is reading recipe

Alexa Morris reading recipe

If you are interested in learning more about the Bakery Skills program or you would like to help support it, you can read more about it here: www.friendshipcircle.org/bakery.

Friendship Circle Opening Cafe and Art Studio for Vocational Opportunities

Since 1994 Friendship Circle has been dedicated to providing exciting new programs to children with special needs and their families. However, those amazing children that joined us in 1994 are now amazing young adults. In order to continue to give them the encouragement and support that they need, we need to continue to adapt and advance our programming.

A New Adventure: The Farber Soul Center

Soul Center RenderingAfter acquiring a portion of a shopping center located at Drake Rd., just south of Walnut Lake Rd in West Bloomfield, Friendship Circle will soon begin to construct and operate a Cafe and Art Studio.  The Farber Soul Center, as it will be named, from a generous $2.1 million donation from the William and Audrey Farber Family Foundation, will be a facility where Friendship Circle will extend programming into the lives of adults with special needs through culinary, digital and traditional arts, thus getting the much needed on-the-job training.  We are continuing to raise an additional half million dollars which is necessary to proceed.

About the Soul Cafe

lighter-look4Soul Cafe will be a gathering place, with a state of the art kosher restaurant.  The unique menu will be unparalleled in the area and most importantly will be created and served by their staff of both, typically-able, and those who have special needs, as they work together as a team.  These young adults with special needs will receive on the job training in kitchen and serving skills. The café also gives the existing Lessons for Life program, currently utilized by over 200 schools around the metro Detroit area, the opportunity to expand their lessons for students with special needs into dining etiquette, utilizing the café’s real-world setting.

About the Soul Studio

inside1Soul Studio will be a professional art studio that encourages these adults with special needs to find their passion and explore the many different artistic media that will be available to them. Friendship Circle will submit the artists’ work to be shown in galleries, entered in contests and sold to commercial and residential customers.

Cutting edge digital technologies such as photography, video, 3-D printing and animation will be available to help them express themselves.  These artists, with the help of state of the art computers, will have the opportunity to sell tangible productions of their digital designs. Of course, no art studio would be complete without artists being able to learn and create paintings, ceramic, weaving, jewelry, printmaking and folk art.

inside2Art Gallery

Also located inside the Farber Soul Center will be the Soul Gallery, which will proudly exhibit the works of the artist.  The gallery will be open daily to the public for viewing and purchasing.

A Message from the Farber Family

Nanci Farber, daughter in law, said, “The Friendship Circle is an entity which is unparalleled in our community.   It is with great joy and a deep warmth and appreciation to The Friendship Circle that the Farber family decided to facilitate the creation and running of the Farber Soul Center.  We however, are only a piece. It takes so many to build such an incredible space. We are indebted to everyone involved and truly grateful to be able to be a part of this amazing journey. The added bonus of this new facility is that it allows Friendship Circle another benefit to their families with children who have special needs that currently are enrolled in their existing programming.  In the evenings, once the Farber Soul Center closes, these children with special needs and their teen volunteers will be able to delve into the arts and find their passions.”

Drama and Music

Drama Program Performs Adventures in CandyLand

Drama and MusicAbout 80 people turned out for the Music and Drama programs opening night of Adventures in CandyLand. The participants in the program worked with 4th Wall production to pick their characters develop the storyline, write their lines and create the decorations and props.

Adventures in CandyLand is about a magical land where candy grows out of the ground.  The royalty living in the castle decide to throw a party but they are foiled by Marshy the Marshmellow Guy and Gloppy the Chocolate King.  Marshy and Gloppy start turning people into chocolate statues and killing the candy crops.  Eventually, everyone is able to live happily ever after once Gloppy and Marshy are invited to the party and no longer feel left out of the festivities

Photos from Adventures in CandyLand

i9 sports

Fox 2 News and a packed Gym Watch the Opening Day of Inclusion Sports

inclusion sports

Sunday February 2 (Superbowl Sunday) was not just an exciting day for football, but also a great day for basketball as well! We had our first day of Inclusion Sports Leagues in partnership with i9 Sports. This partnership is opening the doors for us to offer leagues to children with special needs like never before.

The gym was packed all afternoon with neurotypical children and children with special needs aged 3 to 13 learning new skills, honing old skills and building friendships. WXYT-FM 97.1 talk show host Dan Leach provided play-by-play announcing at the inaugural game.

The goal of this new league is to provide a mutually beneficial environment for both the typically-abled children and those with special needs. There really is huge benefit for both groups of children as the more typically-abled kids learn empathy, teamwork and other real life lessons. Those with special needs are gaining the opportunity to play sports on a team with their peers. The idea of this league is to promote inclusion and compassion.

Fox 2 News Coverage

Fox 2 News Headlines

Photos from Day 1

i9 sports

Friendship Circle Partners with I9 Sports for Inclusion Sports League

 

For the 2014 Winter Session of Inclusions Sports, Friendship Circle is making exciting changes to our format. We are pleased to announce that we have partnered with i9 Sports. The partnership with i9 will allow Friendship Circle to offer leagues to children with special needs like never before.

The teams will be inclusive of both typical kids and kids with special needs. All the children in the league will benefit both socially and emotionally by having the opportunity to be teammates. The typical kids will receive extra support from Friendship Circle on what to expect, why it’s so exciting to have a variety of teammates and how they can be great teammates. Our players with special needs will also receive additional support from Friendship Circle in the form of teen volunteers, and modifications to the drills and game play as needed.

About I9 Sports

i9SportsLogoI9 Sports started in Tampa Florida and is the nation’s first and largest provider of youth sports leagues in the United States with over 600,000 members. The core principals of i9 fit right in with the value structure at Friendship Circle. I9 believes in fun, inclusivity, safety, good sportsmanship and allowing everyone to be a winner.

Program Details

The new sports leagues will run on Sundays. There will no longer be an Inclusion Sports League on Wednesdays.

Start Date: February 2, 2014

End Date: March 30 2014

Final Registration Deadline: January 10, 2014*

*After this date, any remaining spots will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

Beginner (ages 4-8) 3pm – 4:15pm:

  • The majority of kids in this division have never played basketball before.
  • Coaches will work on the basics:
    • Dribbling
    • Shooting (including the correct baskets)
    • Defenses will enforce zone with specific spots for each child to play in (the visual aids really help the kids learn quickly).
  • The teams will practice for about a 1/2 hour each week, and then have a game with real officials!

Junior  (ages 7-11) 4:15pm – 5:30pm:

  • As many kids here are still just beginning basketball, this division continues to emphasize ball handling skills, dribbling, and court awareness/spacing. 
  • Coaches focus more on passing and dribbling, as the kids are beginning to understand these concepts better. 
  • Defensively, we continue to enforce a zone with specific spots for each child. 
  • The teams will practice for about a 1/2 hour each week, and then have a game with real officials!

Seniors  (Ages 10-13) 5:30pm – 6:45pm:

  • At this level, we do a lot more skill building. 
  • We have an instructional practice, where the coaches take the kids through some basic to advanced drills during the practice session. 
  • The refs will then come out and officiate the games. 
  • The teams will work on both man-to-man and zone defense, as well as improve their basketball related skills, such as shooting, passing, dribbling, and rebounding.

For more information and to register, visit: my.friendshipcirle.org

Have additional questions about this program?
Program Director: Catie Quinn
Phone: 248-788-7878

Generous Donation Will Add Another Week to Bike Camp

Between now and the end of the year, Howard and Iris Rosen will generously donate up to $5,000 on a matching gift basis in support of Friendship Circle’s Bike Camp.

Why Bike Camp?

Noah and Hannah Tighe, the niece and nephew of Howard and Iris, participated in this program last year and learned how to ride a bike for the very first time, without training wheels in less than one week! The success of the program was astounding to Howard and Iris. However, due to the high demand for this camp, all of the children that wanted to participate were unable to. This is why it is their desire to underwrite a second week of camp in 2014 with your help.

More About Bike Camp

Friendship Circle has partnered with iCan Bike Program to teach children with special needs to ride a bike in just one week. They go from training wheels to two-wheelers before our eyes. For more information, please check out: iCan Bike 

How You Can Help

If you would like to contribute to this matching fund, please visit: www.friendshipcircle.org/rosen

Photos From Last Year’s Bike Camp

Tech Teens

Tech Teens: Providing Teens with ASD a Creative Outlet

Tech TeensThe Need

It is common for children and teens with Autism or other Autism Spectrum Disorders to have trouble expressing what they need or how they feel.  This can lead to a common misconception: those with Autism do not feel complex emotions because they cannot express them. The new Tech Teens program will provide teens with ASD an outlet to express themselves.

The Program

Friendship Circle is excited to partner with Wish Upon a Teen to bring in a brand new program for the 2013-2014 year, Tech Teens. During this program, students will learn the basics of iMovie and GarageBand software from a certified Apple Instructor. They will learn how to utilize these programs and create their own movies and music. At the end of the program, each participant will have their own song or movie to take home. This program is tailored for teens and young adults who do not require a one-on-one volunteer.

During the summer we ran a pilot program with 5 participants. Here is one video that was created in just 5 days!

Session Details

There will be two Tech Teen sessions. Fall Session: October 21-December 16; Winter Session: January 27- March 31

Time: Mondays 5:00-6:00

About Wish Upon a Teen

Wish Upon a Teen is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization, established in May of 2011, to help teenagers who have developmental or medical conditions. Through creative and interactive social and educational events, these teens will rediscover and rebuild their self-esteem as they continue their journey to adulthood.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Catie Quinn at [email protected]