Making a difference in the lives of youth with special needs!
Friendship Club is a school sanctioned inclusion program that promotes friendship and acceptance for students with special needs and their general education peers. Our program is actively engaged at 40 schools in 14 school districts within the South Bay and Los Angeles area. Friendship Club serves at the elementary, middle and high school levels in public, private and charter schools. Students typically meet during their lunch break or after school to socialize and participate in teacher lead activities. At club meetings, they look forward to pizza parties, bubble shows, drum circle, puppy therapy, dance class and much more! By having a safe and fun space to socialize, students are able to build genuine friendships and learn new social skills.
The Friendship Club inclusion program is designed to empower students of all abilities to positively impact the lives of their peers through our one-to-one buddy system model. Student(s) with special needs are paired with their general education peers and work together to play board games, make neat art projects, play music instruments, and participate in fitness exercises. These fun and interactive activities bridge awareness for students in special education who often feel isolated and left out of school activities. We believe that when students have a greater sense of belonging, they feel confident about their abilities and have the courage to make a difference in society.
Friendship Foundation opened its doors over 15 years ago and started with a monthly “Sunday Circle" program for 8 children with special needs and 22 teen volunteers. Soon thereafter, our teen volunteers asked if they could open a school club on their campus to increase peer interaction with students in special education. We loved the idea and established our first Friendship Club at Mira Costa High School, Palos Verdes High School and Redondo Union High School. Today, Friendship Club continues to build bridges within the South Bay community by inspiring high school students to form collaborative partnerships with their neighborhood elementary school’s Special Day Class programs.
To start a club at your school, please email our School Clubs Manager, Michelle, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Centinela Valley Union High School
Hawthorne High School
Lawndale High School
Leuzinger High School
Century Community Charter School
El Segundo Unified School District
El Segundo High School
Gilbert Unified School District
Mesquite Elementary School (Gilbert, AZ)
Hawthorne Unified School District
Ramona Elementary School
York Elementary School
Zela Davis Elementary School
Hermosa Unified School District
Hermosa Valley Elementary School
Hermosa Valley Middle School
Lawndale Elementary School District
Jane Addams Middle School
Lennox School District
Felton Elementary School
Lennox Middle School
Manhattan Beach Unified School District
Manhattan Beach Middle School
Mira Costa High School
Pacific Elementary School
Meadows Elementary School
Robinson Elementary School
Palos Verdes Unified School District
Mira Catalina Elementary School
Miraleste Intermediate School
Palos Verdes High School
Palos Verdes Intermediate School
Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
Point Vicente Elementary School
Rancho Vista Elementary School
Chadwick High School
Redondo Beach Unified School District
Adams Middle School
Beryl Elementary School
Lincoln Elementary School
Parras Middle School
Redondo Union High School
Thomas County Unified School District
Thomas County Central High School (Thomasville, GA)
Torrance Unified School District
Victor Elementary School
West Torrance High School
Waco Union High School District
Wasco Union High School (Bakersfield, CA)
Wiseburn School District
Dana Middle School
Da Vinci High School
The Friendship Foundation’s School Program Manager will work together with you to start a club at your school. It would be helpful to speak with a teacher who will support your efforts for this new and exciting opportunity! He or she can arrange a meeting with your school principal to discuss your plans for the club; and our school program manager will be available to provide additional information and support at the meeting. By being a member of the Friendship Club community, schools will receive year round support from the Friendship Foundation and opportunities to participate in our annual Friendship Community Carnival and the Evening of Recognition Volunteer ceremony.
Yes, Friendship Club operates at elementary, middle and high school levels. Students have the opportunity to continue participating in Friendship Club as they transition to other schools within their school district.
Volunteer training for all Friendship Foundation programs is mandatory and is offered to all volunteers throughout the school year. We provide workshops that will help students to interact effectively with their buddies and learn why inclusion and acceptance is important for their community. Our teachers will offer support in the classroom and guide students through their club activities. Please visit our volunteer page for more information on how you can get involved.
Many of our volunteers that are members of their school’s Friendship Club have also participated in our community programs. Building friendships in schools have inspired students to stay connected with their peers, improve leadership skills, and expand their social network. For many of our high school club members, leadership opportunities are a great way to gain experience for college. Our annual SKECHERS Pier-to-Pier Friendship Walk is an awe-inspiring event that brings together friends and family for a day filled with fun and entertainment. Middle school and high school students are invited to apply for the SKECHERS Teen Advisory Board (T.A.B.) committee for a chance to promote their school and raise awareness for children with special needs and education. Volunteer opportunities are available to children ages 8-17 and to young adults age 18+. Please visit our volunteer page to get involved.