John Taylor (right) is riding in next weekend’s Test of Metal with teammates Chris Little, Dean Kramaric and Darin Nevin, as a fundraiser for Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society, which has supported his son, Aonghas, who has autism. – See North Shore News article here
Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society is a non-government funded, not-for-profit, federally registered charity, based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Our mission is to enhance reciprocal social interaction, communication, imaginative play, and friendships between individuals on the autism spectrum and their typically developing peers. To meet this mandate, Friend 2 Friend provides a variety of unique and innovative programs including our signature Autism Demystification® programs and the Friend 2 Friend – Integrated Play Groups® programs at our two play centre in Vancouver and New Westminster to individuals ages 3 through 18 on the autism spectrum and related social, communication and play needs.
From left, Jen Seun, Meghan Erdos, Katie Robbins, Jennifer Jacobs, Heather McCracken and Oliver Jacobs of the Friend2Friend Social Learning Society take down the for-lease sign in the downtown New Westminster building that will soon house the society's newest play centre. Photograph By Cornelia Naylor
A former downtown New Westminster development office is going to be a lot more fun by the end of the summer.
The Friend2Friend Social Learning Society has taken over the space – at 336 Columbia St. – and will soon transform it into a place for kids with autism and other special needs to play with their typically developing peers.
“It will look like a huge play place when you walk in, but it will actually be a very detailed clinical environment,” Friend2Friend founder and executive director Heather McCracken told the Record.
McCracken has run a similar play centre in East Vancouver since 2012, and demand has sparked the need for another facility.
The East Van centre was filled to capacity within a year of opening, she said, and since January, it has had to turn away 80 families.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” McCracken said.
The New Westminster centre will double Friend2Friend’s capacity and cut down driving time for families coming from Surrey, Richmond, the Tricities and New West, she said.
A mother of three, including a son with autism, McCracken founded Friend2Friend in 2002.
The non-profit charity uses small, stable play groups to teach kids with autism and typically developing kids to play better together.
The New West centre will also offer free parent training, support groups, training for professionals and Friend2Friend’s first teen program.
“These programs are essential for any child suffering from peer isolation, rejection or bullying within their school or community setting,” McCracken said. “For children with autism, I am sorry to say the need is great.”
The grand opening for the New West play centre is set for Saturday, Sept 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome.
For more information about Friend2Friend, visit www.friend2friendsociety.org.
– See more at: https://www.newwestrecord.ca/community/new-play-centre-for-kids-with-autism-opening-in-new-westminster-1.1944749#sthash.ND9bglyI.dpuf
Vancouver, B.C. – Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society turning away up to 10 children a week due to the staggering demand for their unique and innovative Play Centre programs.
“Of course we knew when we launched our Play Centre – East Vancouver in 2012 that the programs were very badly needed, but we had no idea we would reach capacity within a year after opening,” says Heather McCracken, the founder and executive director of Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society. “Since January we have turned away more than 80 families. As a parent of a child with autism, I know all too well the heartbreak and worry of the ‘wait-list’. Needless to say, we are thrilled to announce the launch of our second Play Centre for Children with Autism at 336 Columbia Street, New Westminster BC.”
The unique Play Centre programs include; early childhood, after school, weekends, spring and summer camp Integrated Play Groups®, as well as free parent training, support groups and training for professionals. The Friend 2 Friend Play Centre’s are the first of a kind to combine the award-winning Integrated Play Groups®, SCERTS® and Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification® models into comprehensive, inclusive programs for children with autism and their peers and siblings. These evidence-based models help all children (those with and without special needs) improve social, communication, emotional regulation, and peer social play, which are the cornerstones to healthy development and lifelong learning and relationships.
“Any family with our without a child with special needs can access our programs, regardless of their child’s needs or abilities. These programs are essential for any child suffering from peer isolation, rejection or bullying within their school or community setting. For children with autism, I am sorry to say the need is great,” states McCracken.
Friend 2 Friend is now seeking funding and support from the community for the launch of their second Play Centre site in September 2015. The Play Centre – New Westminister will assist in meeting the staggering demand for their programs by allowing the Society to more than double the number of children currently being served, as well as add in new teen programs. “Now that we have our new home in New Westminister the work really begins, we need to renovate, decorate, purchase equipment and materials and of course raise funds to support the programs,” says McCracken. “More than ever we need the community’s support.”
Friend 2 Friend is a non-government funded, non-profit charity that has been designing and delivering their unique and innovative Autism Demystification®and Integrated Play Groups® to children and families in B.C., Canada, the US and abroad for more than 14 years. Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society was founded in 2002 by Heather McCracken, a Vancouver parent of three, including a son who has autism.
Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society is seeking enthusiastic, highly compassionateand creative individuals for the positions of Senior Play Guide and Master Guide Trainee, to join our interdisciplinary team of highly trained professionals.
The Opportunity Would you like to work for an organization that truly cares about children, families and their team? If so, this may be the place for you. As a Senior Play Guide and /or Master Guide Trainee you will support the implementation of the Friend 2 Friend – Integrated Play Groups programs at our new Play Centre in New Westminster BC.
This is a wonderful opportunity to work with both typically developing children as well as children on the autism spectrum. In this role you will assist in the set up of programs, aid in the creation of materials, provide scaffolding to players during the programs, as well collect data, design goals and strategies and provide written reports.
What You Bring Bring your exceptional oral, written communication and people skills along with your client service heart to our team. If you have or are working towards a graduate degree in a related field such as speech and language, occupational therapy, education, psychology and a minimum of 3 to 5 years working with children autism in a clinical environment then this is the career for you.
Successful candidates will have a current criminal record check and a current certificate in First Aid from an accredited organization.
We have part time and full time position available at our New Westminster Play Centre available. All training is provided.
To apply: If you are interested in this opportunity send an email including covering letter and resume prior to the closing date of June 15, 2015 email email@example.com
Free Parent Training Evening is open to all parents of novice and expert players at the Friend 2 Friend Play Centre – East Vancouver, 2941 Kingsway, Vancouver 7:00-8:30pm
Thanks for the support of the Loyal Protestant Associate we will once again provide our Spring Break and Summer Camps programs. https://www.friend2friendsociety.org/childrens-programs/play-centre/summer-camp-play-groups/