Friend in Me is a social group connecting kids with disabilities and neurotypical
student volunteers through free, fun online games and conversations via
Zoom on a one-to-one basis every week. Buddies are paired up before each Zoom.
On the Zooms, buddies are put into individual breakout rooms where they
talk and play games for around 30 minutes. Sometimes buddies just hang out
and talk or share an activity together such as an art project. The program is able
to accommodate kids with a wide range of abilities and diagnoses and parents/aides
are welcome to facilitate the interaction if necessary. Scheduling is flexible and is
done every week so kids can change their times whenever they want.
Julia co-founded Friend in Me with her brother Drew in 2020 after she saw how hard it was for her younger brother Troy to socialize with neurotypical students. She loved connecting with all the kids she met through Friend in Me and growing the organization from the ground up. Since graduating high school, Julia stays involved as an advisor.
Drew co-founded Friend in Me with his sister Julia in 2020 in order to help his twin brother Troy find new friends. Besides leading weekly zoom sessions, Drew is the primary point of contact for participants and their parents. He also leads Friend in Me's international expansion efforts (Angeti). He loves hanging out with all of his buddies on Friend in Me and building out the service.
Xin joined Friend in Me’s management team in 2022 but has been a volunteer since its founding. In addition to leading weekend zoom sessions, she is the primary point of contact for volunteers and manages their training as well as the day-to-day administrative tasks. Xin has made many friendships with kids through Friend in Me and she loves seeing the friendships blossom between our buddies. She loves getting to know everyone who joins and hopes to meet more!
Ariana joined Friend in Me’s management team in 2023 and leads weekly zoom sessions. She has met many new wonderful friends through the service. She looks forward to meeting more in the future. She has loved watching buddies and volunteers learn more about friendship and its many forms.
Arshia joined Friend in Me’s management team in 2023 and leads weekly zoom sessions. She loves volunteering and hosting sessions. Arshia has made many friends and learned a lot from the program. She hopes to continue being a part of it and helping it grow to new heights.
Absolutely! We try to pair individuals who we think would be good buddies, but please let us know if you want a specific person.
Yes! You can sign up for any available slots.
If your buddy is late, we will keep you in the waiting room until he/she arrives. If he/she is unable to join after 10 minutes, we will try to pair you with somebody else.
If you can't make it to a Zoom you are already signed up for, we request that you let us know a minimum of 24 hours in advance so we can find another buddy to replace you.
We do our best to keep buddies together every week. However, scheduling conflicts may force us to switch them around. If you are signed up for more than one Zoom on a particular week, you are most likely not going to get the same buddy every day.
We welcome anyone from ages 8 to 18.
“The best thing about the pandemic was that we found Friend in Me. It’s the highlight of my son’s week to meet his buddies on Zoom. He looks forward to it every weekend and really feels like he belongs there.”
“The best part about Friend in Me is meeting all kinds of interesting kids. I also like that I can change my volunteering schedule whenever I need to.”
“Before Friend in Me, my son did not have a single friend in his entire life. We are so grateful for this kind community. Thank you for everything you do.”
“Everyone at Friend in Me is really nice and it’s a rewarding way to volunteer.”
“I love meeting everyone on Friend in Me. The people are nice and the games are fun.”
“It’s fun to join Friend in Me, even though I’ve never lost at chess so much in my life!”
"Friend in Me is a wonderful program. My son really enjoys the sessions, and looks forward to it. He always has a great time. He got to meet a lot of amazing friends. The people who run sessions are very accommodating. I highly recommend Friend in Me for anyone"
"If you're really passionate about helping people, making friends, and building connections, this is a good opportunity to do that. It's good to build connects with people that are different from you"
If you have any questions about Angeti or how to get involved, please email@example.com
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We are proud to announce that we have partnered with Fondation Les Anges du Ciel, a non-profit organization based in Cameroon, to expand our service into Africa. The new service is called Angeti.
Angeti pairs kids with disabilities with therapists on a one-on-one basis for free online games and conversations over Zoom every week. Angeti also offers parent training on a weekly basis to educate parents about how best to help their special needs child participate in the Zoom sessions and to live up to their full potential.
Thirty minute Zoom sessions for kids are offered every Friday at 10:00 a.m. beginning on 1 September 2023.
Thirty minute Zoom sessions for parents are offered every Saturday at 11:00 a.m. beginning on 2 September 2023.
(All times are shown in local Cameroon time.)
Participants: Parents who would like to sign their special needs child up to participate should fill out the below google document online. After we receive your form through the internet, we will contact you as soon as we have found an appropriate volunteer to pair with your child. Participants must be between the ages of 8 and 18. Parents are welcome to join their child in the Zoom sessions to help them engage socially.Participant Sign Up Form
Therapists: Therapists must be between the ages of 18 and 25. Therapists will be paid $_____ for every Zoom session that they complete. Please sign up as a therapist using the below google document online. After we receive your form through the internet, we will contact you. All volunteers must be approved by Fondation Les Anges du Ciel and complete a training session before they can participate.Volunteer Sign Up Form
Please donate here if you’d like to help fund the operations of Friend in Me. We use these funds to pay for our Zoom account, marketing and corporate filings.GoFundMe
Please donate here if you’d like to help fund the operations for our new service called "Angeti." We have partnered with a non-profit organization based in Cameroon, Africa called Fondation Les Anges du Ciel to launch this service in Africa and they will act as our managing partner in the territory. We are deeply moved by the plight of kids with disabilities in this area of the world. Neurodiverse children are often believed by their communities to be possessed by the devil or the product of witchcraft. (See articles below.) As a result, many parents of kids with disabilities hide them away at home and do not send them to school. We hope that our service can make a difference for these kids who have no means to socialize or find friends. Funds will go toward the costs of marketing, internet service, devices and equipment, training, and stipends for volunteers.GoFundMe
To learn more about the challenges faced by children with disabilities in Cameroon and the positive impact of education efforts, we encourage you to read the following articles:Article 1: Cameroon Advocates Education for Children with AutismArticle 2: Africa: Cameroon Aid Groups Try to Get Neglected Autistic Children Back to SchoolGoFundMe