WHO WE ARE
The Friendship Circle is today's fastest growing Jewish organization for children with special needs, boasting over 80 locations worldwide. The Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization that provides social recreational programs for Jewish children, teens, and young adults with special needs. Being different or misunderstood deprives hundreds of special children in our community of the most basic necessities of childhood: friendship, play-dates, and outlets for youthful recreation and expression. The Friendship Circle addresses these challenges in a way that celebrates the uniqueness and individuality of children with special needs.
Founded by Chabad of the Upper East Side in 2008, the Friendship Circle aims to provide families with special needs with many of the social opportunities available to the general community. The centerpiece of the Friendship circle program is the pairing of local teenagers for weekly home visits with the children, and extends from there to a full range of activities and events including: Sunday Circle, Miracle Sports League, Hang'n with Friends, Day Camp, Holiday Celebrations, and other family oriented programs.
By integrating the wisdom of professionals and the energetic spirit of teenagers and young professionals, the Friendship Circle brings out the best from within all of those involved. Through the gifts and joys of friendship, the young volunteers are able to reach the children in ways that most forms of therapy cannot. Furthermore, the program has had a profound effect on the teenagers themselves instilling within them a sense of connection to and responsibility for the greater Jewish Community. We see this as essential to developing and producing the members and leaders of tomorrow's Jewish Community.
The Friendship Circle aims to provide Jewish families respite and support for their children, teens and young adults who have special needs with a full range of social, recreational, educational and Judaic experiences. Friendship Circle looks to empower, enrich, inspire, and motivate Jewish teenagers and young professionals to make a difference through volunteering and sharing of themselves with others.
At the heart of all the Friendship Circle's programming is the belief that each and every individual can be a productive member of the community and benefit from the social support offered by one's peers. Friendship, acceptance, and a chance to participate in socially accepted bonding opportunities are critical to achieving this type of inclusive society. We envision a world in which people with special needs and their families experience acceptance, inclusion and friendship as contributing members of society.