Friendship Circle finds creative ways to build friendships during COVID through friends receiving old fashioned letters!
Friendship Circle of Virginia launched its new pen pal program, Friends With Pens, just two months ago and now over 45 youth with disabilities are receiving letters of friendship in their mail boxes.
Opening mail has become so much fun!
In the Friends With Pens program, part of our Friends@Home Division, a Teen Friend without disabilities is assigned to a friend with a disability and sends them two handwritten letters per month. While the child with a disability is welcome to respond to their friend if they’d like, it is not a requirement so as not to add stress during these already challenging times for parents and families.
For our friends with disabilities, Friends With Pens provides the joy and excitement of opening real, old fashioned snail mail addressed just to them.
For our Teen Friends, especially in these difficult times of often being attached to a device for school or social interaction, writing a letter and knowing it will bring a smile to a friend’s face is a true joy and meaningful activity.
To help make writing easier and more fun, our dedicated staff designs and sends a new template with a theme to all our teens every two weeks with writing and drawing prompts to send to their friends. The same blank template is sent to their friends with disabilities in case they want to write back. Many already have!
45 Matches Created
Since launching the program less than one month ago, 45 new Friends with Pens matches have been created! The program attracted 18 new families with children with disabilities and 24 new Teen Friends.
Friends With Pens is an expansion of our signature Friends@Home Division and has been a creative and fresh way to experience joy during COVID when the world looked so dark. We are proud that Friendship Circle has been providing so much light through friendship and social connection during these times.
This program has created a new basis for community members and families with disabilities to sign up for Friendship Circle and to enjoy all we offer. For those who are unable to commit to weekly programs or were nervous about meeting someone with a disability, Friends With Pens has created a new avenue of connection that will hopefully blossom into lasting and meaningful friendships.
One member named Jaxx used to attend Friendship Circle monthly programs regularly when he was younger. Unfortunately, Friends@home was not possible with the family’s schedule. Even when Friends@home went virtual it was too difficult for Jaxx to communicate via the computer. Then his mom signed him up for Friends with Pens! His mother was so excited when Jaxx received his letter that she posted on social media, “Thanks for bringing joy to our children through the wonderful gift of friendship and belonging.”