April 2018FEATURE

The Power of Friendship Circle


By Amy Nisen

Not many of us know what it feels like to be truly lonely, to feel like we are all alone or constantly misunderstood. Sadly, many of the children and young adults Friendship Circle serves have experienced that throughout their lives.

I have been involved in Friendship Circle for many years, first in Philadelphia now in San Diego. At our annual banquet this year the participants of the Shooting Stars performing arts group and Friendship Dojo gave demonstrations. It was wonderful, the joy on the faces of the participants was intoxicating.

Friendship Circle gives power to people with disabilities and their families by creating a supportive and accepting environment. There are a variety of programs for different age groups and interests. In Gymnastics Club, a collaboration with UCSD, participants are led by college student instructors at the campus gymnastics facility to work on confidence, strength, and balance; and the Young Adults Club gets 20 and 30 year olds together for outings and joint events with Chai @ Beth El.

That’s just a small sampling of the programming, which serves a broad and varied population. The program has a clear impact on both participants and their families — it serves as a space where kids can be themselves and be appreciated — and their parents get a chance to watch or take a break.

After a recent event, we received this email from the mother of a volunteer:

“I want to THANK YOU, Friendship Circle, Shaolin Kempo Arts, Steve and Yael for such a rewarding opportunity for my son Tyler to work with Yael. Tyler was beaming after getting to partner with her at the Friendship Dojo last night. It is a true gift to Tyler for him to feel needed and appreciated for his tenderness. Yael’s positivity and love of life is something he can aspire to.”

The organization gives participants a chance/encouragement to take what society perceives as weaknesses, and turn them into motivation and strengths.

“I never imagined Sara would be on this stage as a special guest speaker at the Friendship Circle of San Diego. She eloquently spoke about how this wonderful organization has helped her personally and how it helps others in the community with special needs. Ironically, she has a speech and language disability but showed everyone how we can all overcome if we continue to strive to do our best in everything we do and believe in ourselves and focus on our strengths.”

Posted on Facebook by one of our mom’s. Her daughter delivered an inspiring speech about overcoming her challenges at our banquet.


The Friendship Circle Walk will take place on April 29, 2018. The Friendship Circle Walk SD will take place at Liberty Station NTC Park’s, Preble Field followed by the SD Jewish Federation’s Israel Fest across the street at Ingram Plaza. Registration and the Friendship Fair begin at 9 a.m. with a bounce house obstacle course, soccer, lawn games, a photo booth, karate, face painting and much more. The 5K Friendship Circle walk begins at 10 a.m. and Israel Fest follows at 11 a.m. For more information call (858) 487-4879 or go to FriendshipWalkSD.org.


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