Summer 2014 Newsletter
A Boy and His iPad Are a Promising Team
   Harvey Wu and his iPad
By: Denise Carmen, Speech Language Pathologist and
Circle of Friends Advisor, Ridge Road Elementary School,
with Kim Krupinski, Development Coordinator, Circle of Friends

Two years ago, Harvey Wu rarely spoke up in class, and when he did, it was highly prompted by his special education teachers and therapists.

Harvey is a 5th grade student at Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, Connecticut, and he is on the autism spectrum.  Communicating his thoughts and feelings to others is a daily struggle.

Yet nowadays, Harvey fearlessly chats, laughs and socializes with his buddies from Circle of Friends (CoF).

What changed?  Harvey was given an iPad.  And the two have formed one awesome partnership.

Fun, Friends and Field Trips
Circle of Friends hosted our 10th Annual Circle Summer day camp from June 23-July 16, 2014, in West Los Angeles, CA.

Circle Summer brings young adults with and without special needs together for field trips and fun within the community.  While out and about, non-disabled, college-age Group Leaders model and shape appropriate social skills for their peers with disabilities.  Lasting and genuine friendships bloom through meaningful social interactions in real-life situations.

This year, 21 young adults with special needs joined 10 Group Leaders and two experienced p
rogram Co-Directors for visits to Griffith Park Observatory, STAR Eco Station, Vons supermarket, and the beach in Santa Monica.  Also on the itinerary -- bowling, picnicking at a local park and watching Maleficent in the theater.

The activities culminated in a Grand Finale celebration at the Santa Monica Bay Woman's Club.  Parents, participants, staff, volunteers and major supporters gathered to hear presentations on favorite summer memories and witness a touching superlative awards ceremony.

Let us know if you would like to be a part of Circle Summer 2015!
A Parent's Perspective
Natalie (right) and friend
By: Brian and Dorothy McKim, parents of Natalie McKim who is on the autism spectrum

Natalie McKim participated in the four-week Circle Summer program.  From the moment we asked her if she wanted to join Circle Summer, it was an immediate, Yes I do!

We have to tell you, Natalie was enthusiastic on all of the field trips.  She made new friends and now calls them her best friends!  She would tell us after each field trip what she experienced and had the biggest smile on her face.

It gave Natalie an opportunity to be around other girls her age and older as this was the first program outside her high school that she has been involved with.  To be surrounded by a friendly, happy, positive environment is an understatement.  The Directors, Maria and Kelly, and counselor Rachel were fabulous.

Natalie was so sad when Circle Summer came to an end.  She tells us every day that she can't wait until next year for Circle Summer.  Circle Summer will now be a new tradition with our family for years to come.

Besides Natalie meeting new friends, we did, too.  We are so inspired by these young adults -- to see the joy and happiness on their faces each meeting day waiting to go on the field trips was fantastic.

We are so happy to have Natalie be a part of Circle Summer -- we love, love, love this program!!!
TV Series Documents Lives of Young Adults with 
Special Needs
"The Specials" trailer
On September 7, 2014, starting at 2:30 p.m. ET, The Oprah Winfrey Network will air back-to-back episodes of the award-winning documentary series "The Specials".
Nabbing the Webby Award and the People's Choice Award for Best Reality at the 14th Annual Webby Awards, "The Specials" chronicles the lives of five differently-abled individuals as they transition into adulthood -- highlighting the humanity that unites us all.
On April 26, 2014, Circle of Friends (CoF) hosted "A Toast to Good Friends - Under the Tuscan Sun", our 6th Annual Awards Dinner and Silent Auction at the Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Westside.

Nearly 160 guests joined us in celebrating Friendship and Inclusion, and through their support we raised over $65,000, topping last year's success!

All donations will increase the meaningful inclusion of students with disabilities on school campuses and within communities and decrease bullying.  We are inspiring compassion in youth for generations to come.

Click here to view event highlights!     
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Starting with the 2014-15 school year, Circle of Friends will partner with five new schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, in addition to adding chapters in Calaveras County School District, Newhall School District, Standard School District and West Contra Costa Unified School District.  That's over 155 chapters created in total! 
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Circle of Friends welcomes Program Facilitator, Jon Pusey, to the team, as well as new Board Members Brad Tukey (Owner, BRT Enterprises, and Marketing and Advertising Consultant), Kit Hansen (MBA Candidate, UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Certified Public Accountant, PricewaterhouseCoopers) and Susan Komsky (Former Vice President of Information Technology, Millersville University).
We hope that you've enjoyed the Summer 2014 Newsletter.  Remember to send your comments, story ideas and photos to [email protected]  Until the fall, Friends!

Best wishes, 
Your Circle of Friends Staff, Barb, Tamra, Kim, Ruth, Ellie, Casandra and Jon

*Donate in honor of a family member and/or friend, and we will send them
a card with the good news.

Circle of Friends ~ The Path to Inclusion
A Project of Community Partners, 501(c)(3), Tax ID # 95-4602067
11965 Venice Blvd., Suite, 301, Los Angeles, CA  90066
Voice: (310) 312-6600(310) 312-6600, Fax: (310) 312-6609,