Small Town Times January2018 - Page 4

Circle of Friends By: Marrisa Zentz Litchfield High school has a social and language skills program for special needs children, it is called circle of friends (CoF). Circle of friends provides the skills needed for students to build friendships with each other. According to one of the groups advisors, Mrs. Sherrie Klein, “Circle of Friends is for mentoring students and the target student to have relationships that create social interactions with each other and foster outside of school and in-school friendships, especially when coordinating with another school.” Circle of friends also provides a systematic approach to a multi-layered program enabling students with disabilities to lead engaged lives with their non-disabled peers and other people outside their school and peer groups. These usually contain at least two to four students, but more than that are welcome. Circle of friends’ large monthly groups activities are a fun way for the students to interact with other people outside of the school. Some of the trips that they have taken so far include the Zoo in Omaha and the Pumpkin patch at Gibbon. Mrs. Klein stated that the activities are “generated by the target student and mentoring students’ input.” Rachel Linden said that she enjoyed the trips that they have taken so far, calling them “good” and “interesting.” She noted that, “the penguins were amazing,” on the zoo trip and she thinks that CoF is helping the group socially. Meghan Kratzer mentioned, “I like how we get to interact with Rachel and get to know Rachel personally.” Delaney LeFever likes CoF because they get to know “more about Rachel and the things that she likes.” According to Mrs. Klein, some future CoF events include “to interact with preschoolers in assisting with eye-hand coordination and verbal communication in making Christmas stockings. CoF will have a Christmas party with Secret Santa's and sharing Christmas stories/traditions. In January, our group will go to Big 5 for bowling and pizza, February will be "speed dating" where everyone in the group will rotate and ask each other questions about each other, i.e. favorite color, music, travel etc. March we will go as a group for Manicures and Pedicure's before Prom. End of the year, April activity will be Frisbee golf and Subway in Loup City. These will be our main outings along with our bi-weekly meetings that address social and autism awareness.” 4