In This IssueHighlights | Events | Announcements | Contribute
We've Got A New Look

With the new year fast approaching, it has been a time of reflection on the work we've done this year, the advancements we made, and what we're looking to do in 2019 as we continue building on our program. Our  ultimate goal  is ensuring the services we provide are current and meet the needs of those we serve. 

So with this issue,  we're excited to  unveil the new look and name, INspire, of our  newsletter.   Why "INspire?"  For starters, YOU  inspire us with the  many wonderful testimonies that have been shared with us about how Circle of Friends has changed the culture of school campuses, impacted you, your child[ren] and/or students, and communities at-large.  Add to this the awesome photos we receive of  Circle of Friends  chapter activities showing students with and without disabilities i nteracting meaningfully in natural social environments building genuine friendships .  We are also inspired by the many wonderful opportunities and partnerships we are  exploring to expand our program to reach more youth.  

We thank you for your commitment to inclusion.  We want to actively  engage with you  by providing pertinent  information, sharing program updates, and hearing from you. So, please feel free to  share your thoughts with us. And  keep the stories, photos, and testimonies coming!

We are all about being "IN" and making sure no one is  left out.  

Happy Holidays and see you next year!

In Friendship,
Circle of Friends

highlights Highlights
A Word From Coldwater Canyon Elementary
By: Erick Puell

The fourth grade students at Coldwater Canyon Elementary have demonstrated leadership skills through our Circle of Friends program. Every Friday during lunch general and special education students participate in arts and crafts, team-building games, karaoke, celebration of birthdays/holidays, game board mania, and of course, field trips! 
Earlier this year, a young man who was new to our school asked if he could join CoF. He was getting sent to the office for misconduct and bullying, but I couldn't say no. Instead, I gave him a chance. After a few weeks, this student began organizing play dates during lunch with his peers in special education. His behavior was greatly impacted by the opportunity to take on a leadership role and become the voice for a friend who didn't have one. 
The staff and administrators at Coldwater Canyon Elementary have been working towards making our school community a safe and nurturing environment. We believe that CoF has been a great tool. By establishing a school climate where we learn to understand and respect people of all backgrounds and abilities, we in turn create an environment where students and their families are valued for who they are.

A photo of Erick Puell and last year's 4th grade class at Coldwater Canyon Elementary.
BBC - My Autism and Me
"A video I found may help others understand their own Autism as well as help someone understand someone with Autism"
BBC - My Autism and Me

Parent Testimonial

"My son started Circle of Friends last year and I had the pleasure of attending the Celebrity Poker Tournament last year at the Avalon with Joe Mantegna. I also met the [Executive] Director of COF. My son is 13 years old and has Autism. I wanted to write you because, as a mom, I cannot thank you enough for the work you all do. I am forever grateful that my son has a place to go at school when he otherwise feels excluded and downright alienated amongst his peers. Keep up the good job."

- Leah G.
Parent from Lancaster School District

Featured Chapter Photo

From Calexico High School's (9th grade) end of the year "Circle of Friends Friendship Celebration & Bowling"

A Feature for San Benito High School

Our  San Benito High School  chapter was recently highlighted in the California Schools Magazine's Fall issue. This is a wonderful highlight of all of the hard work of the students, parents, and teachers at SBHS! Special thanks to Adam Breen for writing this piece. To read the article
click here  (pages 17-18)
In The News
Photo courtesy of NBC News
Student With Autism Receives Basketball Scholarship

Kalin Bennet of Little Rock, Arkansas became the first high school student with autism to commit to a division one school, Kent State, on a basketball scholarship! Read more about Kalin's story and his decision to attend Kent State  here.

Upcoming Events  Upcomingevents

For details, visit our website.


Brady Shines charitable giving program, the philanthropic division of Brady Industries, has awarded Circle of Friends with a 2018 grant. This support enabled us to bring our program to a new school district to launch a Circle of Friends Chapter. Thank you, Brady Industries!

CoF Executive Directors Robyn & Felicia with Brady Industries Los Angeles representatives Tomi & Matt.
Circle of Friends received additional grants from the following organizations:

Thank you for your continued support!
We Want to Hear From You!

We are always looking to add the voices of the staff, children, and parents impacted by our programs. If you would like to share encouragement, events, photos or videos, please e-mail us

There is no time more fitting to say

Thank  You
As we look back at the past year and forward to the next year, we extend a heartfelt thank you to for your support and partnership.   

We couldn't do what we do without you, and we're ever so grateful that you believe in our work.  Thank you for your trust in us.

When ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things, big differences are made in the lives of others.  
Please help us reach our goal to extend our program to more schools with a  charitable gift of $5. 

Share this message with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, too, to help us reach 10,000 people who, like you, want every child to be accepted and have a chance to build genuine friendships.   

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