Letters to the Editor

Letter | Friendship Circle is critical for special needs families

The Friendship Circle programs and volunteers have made an incredible impact on my family. The Friendship Circle is a nonprofit located in Mercer Island that is dedicated to providing respite, therapies, education and activities for children and teens with special needs. I would like to share my family’s story to explain why I am walking at the Walk With Friendship event on Oct. 21.

When I first heard about The Friendship Circle, it seemed too good to be true. “Seriously?” I said to my friend, “A teenager will come play with my child and there are weekend drop-off activities for kids with special needs that are appropriate and enriching too?”

“Just call them,” my friend said. I’m glad I did, and I was thrilled to find out the Friendship Circle was for real.

Each week, a teenage volunteer named Victoria comes to our home to play with our daughter, Charlotte, who has significant developmental delays. Although Charlotte is sweet and loving, her behaviors can be challenging and require me to be on high alert most of the time, which is exhausting. Victoria’s playtime with Charlotte provides me with a well-needed respite. It warms my heart to see Charlotte light up when Victoria walks in the door and to hear Charlotte’s belly laugh while they play. Furthermore, it feels great to know that Charlotte is broadening Victoria’s world in a special way.

We also look forward to the Sunday Circle, a bimonthly program in which Charlotte spends Sunday afternoons hanging out with her teen friends and engaging in music, sports, Kung Fu, art and other activities that are facilitated by trained therapists. During every Friendship Circle program, Charlotte and the other children are embraced for who they are without judgment. When you’re at The Friendship Circle, you get the feeling that the world is becoming a more inclusive place for children with special needs.

Please help us form a seamless circle of friendship — walk with us on Oct. 21.

Jill Hawkins

Walk With Friendship is a 1K family walk or a 5K loop that will take place in downtown Mercer Island and will end at Mercerdale Park. The walk will be held on Oct. 21 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. For registration and more information about the Walk With Friendship event, please visit www.WalkWithFriendship.com.


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