Widening The Circle
formerly “The Real Friends Project”
An essential ingredient for kids to make friends is to have connections with other kids wherever they live, learn, and play. This is especially true, and challenging, if one of the goals is for relationships between kids with disabilities and kids without disabilities.
Connecting Where Kids Live
We often hear people comment that neighborhoods aren’t what they used to be, that the interactions that were once commonplace are now rare. But some neighborhoods are still neighborly! If you can choose where you live, be cognizant of that. But if you can’t move, don’t despair!
Suggestions for involvement in the neighborhood:
- Seek out your neighbors.
- Find out what other kids go to your kid’s school (because so many kids still get shipped “out of district” for school, this can really be a problem for making friends).
- Get involved in neighborhood groups where you can meet families with kids the ages of yours.
- Be the home in the neighborhood that other kids want to come to; create a neat family room, have lots of games, make it a destination that can fill your child’s life.
Connecting Where Kids Learn
Suggestions for building relationships at school:
- Advocate for the fullest inclusion possible.
- Regularly observe your child at school.
- Ask if teachers can “map” interactions they observe between your child and others.
- Investigate school-sponsored clubs, after-school events, etc.
Connecting Where Kids Play
In addition to informal interaction that happens and can be encouraged in the neighborhood, our kids should be supported to participate in a host of recreational opportunities where people with and without disabilities can participate together.