Winter/Spring 2014 Newsletter


Select Circle of Friends 
for 'Designate a Project'


Circle of Friends 
11965 Venice Blvd, 
Suite 301 
Los Angeles, CA  90066

Circle of Friends Makes a Difference
in Small Communities Too!
By: Kimberly Anderson,
Circle of Friends President,
Calaveras High School 

Living in a rural community in
the Sierra Foothills of California, our Circle of Friends members recently gave Disability Awareness Presentations for the freshman class.  I did not expect the feedback we received would be so positive
and uplifting.

Our presentations opened the eyes of the students and made them realize that we are all able to connect with each other, because each of us has our own disabilities in one way or another. 

Surveys were completed by the freshman and one really stood out.

"This presentation spoke to me, I've always been sort of a jock and a jerk, but after the [Disability Awareness] presentation, I kinda felt bad because of all the people I hurt.  I feel that if I change my attitude towards other people I could find true happiness in myself and others."
Alumnus Expresses Gratitude
On February 11, 2014, Program Facilitator Ellen Goren received the below email message from former student Markesse, who is on the autism spectrum.  Instantly, her day became a whole lot brighter! 
"Hey Ellie, I would like to thank you for helping me by introducing me to Circle of Friends when I came to Henry about 7 years ago.  Because of you and that club, I have made lots of friends from there and now I am making plans with friends outside of school.  I really appreciate it.  If it wasn't for you, I would have never met Isaiah, who I am still good friends with today.  You and that club have helped me so much and it changed me for the best. Once again, thank you Ellie, thank you for your help :)."

Markesse graduated in 2011 from Patrick Henry High School in San Diego.  Proof positive of the lasting impact Circle of Friends has on all involved...
Circle of Friends: Building Bridges on an Island
By: Liz Saliba,  
Autism Specialist,
Bainbridge Island District 

Our school district, although small comparatively, implemented several new programs, initiatives and curriculum recently.  While many of these new programs focus on academics and common core standards, we were pleased to announce that we were the very first Washington State chapter of Circle of Friends.

As the school year began, there was a buzz amongst educators, parents and community members: "Tell me more about Circle of Friends!"  We could only describe what we knew, not what we were yet to experience.

Is it possible for meaningful friendships to develop between disabled and non-disabled peers?  Is this a token friendship program?  How will this look?  When will it happen?

What I can tell you now, two trainings and many lunch meetups in, is that we had truly underestimated the power of compassion, the meaning of inclusion and the desire to be connectedCircle of Friends has given us the opportunity for students to authentically, genuinely develop friendships.

Years After Bullying, Negative Impact on a Child's Health May Remain
A study conducted by Boston Children's Hospital finds the negative effects of bullying on a child's mental and physical well being to be serious, cumulative and long-term.  The researching author emphasizes the importance of early intervention to combat this damaging behavior sooner rather than later. 
 Good News from Golden Valley
By: The Proud Golden Valley CoF Staff - Marsha Salmon, Kerry Riccio Aguero, Jaime Foderaro, Catherine Ridley, Jennifer McCool,
Krystle Sabio and Joel Nelson 

Golden Valley High School is pleased to announce that the newly established GV Chapter of Circle of Friends (CoF) is alive and well on our campus.

GVH Speech Language Pathologist, Krystle Sabio, notes, "I work with many students that are introverted and won't speak unless spoken to.  It has been in the Circle of Friends setting where they have truly come out of their shell, and it's only been a few months!"

Jaime Foderaro [GVH Special Education Teacher and local CoF staff member] observes, "For my autistic students, CoF has provided a feeling of being included, and has given them the courage to participate in activities they may not have before.  Our hope is that our students will be able to maintain long-term, genuine friendships, and be encouraged to continue with the socializing around campus and in the community."


After a two year's collaborative effort, Circle of Friends is proud to debut our new About Us videoCheck it out here.  Many thanks to Mark Rosman, Freddie de la Vega and George Palilis for making this happen! 

Inclusion opportunities in our own backyard...  Circle of Friends is thrilled to partner with Los Angeles Unified School District.  Welcome to the CoF family James Madison Middle School, Washington Irving Middle School, Venice High School, Reseda High School and Santee Education Complex. 

's Founder and Executive Director, Barbara Palilis,
has been busy speaking at conferences across California.  Recently, she's presented at CSHA (California Speech Language and Hearing Association) and Cal-TASH (The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps) conferences, along with a SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area) and an NCCSE (North Coastal Consortium for Special Education) meeting.  
Would you like Barbara to speak on our model of inclusion at a conference near you?  Email [email protected] 
Gearing Up For Circle Summer 2014
Do you live in West Los Angeles?  Do you know a student with special needs who might be interested in gathering with friends over the summer for fun times and field trips?  The dates of Circle Summer 2014 are June 23 - July 16.  Enrollment is $400/studentEmail [email protected] to sign up or for more information.

We know of many students with disabilities who would
LOVE to participate in Circle Summer but cannot afford to.  Lend your support by donating online towards their enrollment fee, today.
I hope you've enjoyed our Winter/Spring 2014 Newsletter!  Circle of Friends ~ The Path to Inclusion would not be all it is today without your continued engagement.  We are so much more than a friendship-building program operating on a collection of individual school campuses, we are a social inclusion movement that is sweeping the day maybe the world.


In Friendship, 
Barbara Palilis 
Founder and Executive Director

P.S. If you're a current student, an alum or administrator/advisor for Circle of Friends and would like to be featured in our next newsletter, send pictures, stories and ideas to [email protected]You are the best of CoF!  
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, Fax: (310) 312-6609,