People say that there is nothing on this earth more prized than true friendship. For many parents of youth with disabilities that is the missing link. Although their children find success in the classroom or at a job, what they are missing is the friend group to meet up with after school or on the weekends. That is where Thrive steps in.
“We saw a need and we are offering programs to meet that need,” shared Director of Youth Services Caitlyn Devaney-Fortwengler. “In the past two months alone we have started two new social groups on the weekends, a time when young people socialize with their friends. These groups not only offer a social outlet for kids, but they also offer respite for families who are juggling the daily challenges of life,” she added.
Thrive’s 18+ ASD Men’s group meets every other Friday evening. The group plays video games, watches movies, and talks about their lives. The goal is to create a safe and caring community where true friendships develop. “My favorite part of Men’s Group is all the different activities,” shared participant Maxwell Palmer. Another new addition occurring on alternating Saturdays is Thrive’s Social Cooking Saturdays. Based on the same premise of forming friendships, the group works together to create and cook a snack or meal. While the food is cooking, they play games, talk, or hang out.
These social groups are not Thrive’s only social outlets for children and young adults. The Thrive After School Community (TASC), now in its third year, continues to grow. This year Thrive has a record number of participants, with plans to offer more spaces next year. TASC offers activities such as art, athletic programs, and cooking in an after-school environment that is caring and flexible to participants’ needs. “I know it sounds cliché, but my daughter has thrived at TASC. She has learned new skills and made true friends for the first time,” raved Christine Johnson, mother of a TASC participant.
Keep an eye out for additional activities and experiences for these young people. We know that the sooner we reach a young person, the more positive impact we can have on their lives. By focusing on connecting with others and forming lasting friendships, we not only help families but also create bright moments for our participants, which is our goal here at Thrive.