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F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Down Syndrome/Special Needs - West Florida

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult Education, Down Syndrome, Education, Health

Mission: Our Mission is to provide all encompassing educational and support services to families who have been impacted by Down Syndrome/Special Needs, while promoting complete community integration.

Results: F.R.I.E.N.D.S. GOALS · F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Goals will provide a foundation on which we will meet the demands of the future. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. will provide broad reaching educational services for families impacted by Down Syndrome and other special needs. · To provide accurate and up-to-date information to new and expectant parents. · To change people’s attitudes about Down Syndrome and promote respect and esteem. · To enable people with Down Syndrome and other special needs to speak up and be heard. · To have people with Down Syndrome and other special needs be included in our community. · To provide financial and social service support, educational outreach, and community integration for families impacted by Down Syndrome and other special needs. · Training volunteers to represent and promote “best practice” programs in meeting the needs of all individuals with Down syndrome and their families whether in early intervention programs, schools, colleges, employment, social settings, etc. or through legislative advocacy. · To offer a safe, positive and welcoming environment where our families, their children, and our adults can create lasting friendships, build self-confidence, and experience the joy of getting together.

Target demographics: F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (Families Raising, Inclusion, Education, Networking for Down Syndrome/Special Needs)

Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 800 families

Geographic areas served: Hillsborough, Pinellas, and surrounding counties

Programs: • F.R.I.E.N.D.S. PARENT PACKETS – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. provides our new & expectant families the information they need. We distributed over 100 parent packets every year to families and hospitals. PARENT LIAISONS – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. provides our families the support and information they need. • EDUCATION PROGRAM - F.R.I.E.N.D.S. spoke about Down syndrome, special needs and the challenges we face as a community in presentations to hospitals and community groups. • BABY F.R.I.E.N.D.S. - A monthly playgroup for birth to 5 yrs where parents can connect, share and learn while the kids play. We have three active playgroups, two in Brandon and one in Westchase. • AFTER SCHOOL SPECIALS - A playgroup for 6 yrs to 10 yrs. Our new group that meets monthly for fun play dates and activities in Brandon. • F.R.I.E.N.D.S. DANCES - Provides dances and social gatherings for our adults with special needs, for ages 15 yrs plus. We provide 2 dances a month, one in Seminole and the other in Brandon. • F.R.I.E.N.D.S. SOCIAL NIGHT - Our social night will be full of family fun, games, and crafts in Brandon. • F.R.I.E.N.D.S. SUPPORT GROUPS – When you have a child with special needs, support groups can be a lifeline. Attending them and interacting with others who have similar issues can offset the feeling that you are the only one in your situation. Come meet parents who can offer coping strategies and tips on useful resources. Held in Brandon and Seminole. • F.R.I.E.N.D.S. ALZHEIMER SUPPORT GROUP - Alzheimer's disease and Down syndrome Regression can change the landscape for adults with Down syndrome. This group was created to provide a safe environment for families and those who care for, support and love people with Down syndrome. Held in Seminole. • COMMUNITY PROGRAMS – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. brings our families together for support, advocacy, and networking with our picnics, parties and parades. • HOSPITAL OUTREACH - Provides social workers and NICU's with our F.R.I.E.N.D.S. parent packets and other special needs information. We also give special needs presentations to new interns, MD's, and nurses. • SPANISH OUTREACH - Hablamos español y tenemos enlaces de padres para responder cualquier pregunta que pueda tener. • STUDENT VOLUNTEER PROGRAM - We offer high school students volunteer service hours to put toward scholarships, such as Bright Futures. We offer College students volunteer community hours.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Sue W.2


Rating: 5

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is exactly what you want in a Down Syndrome support group. This group helps its members find comfort, advice, socialization, and community for starters. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. embraces our kids and supports parents; making you feel like you belong, in a world where you often feel out of place.



Rating: 5

What a great group of people. They really care about you and want to help.

1 Anika S.


Rating: 5

This was my first time volunteering alone and it didn't feel like it. Everyone was so kind and welcoming that I felt right at home. I will continue to volunteer, donate, and help any chance that I get.

1 Julie H.4


Rating: 5

I can say enough good things about this group. Their dedication to the Down Syndrome community is endless. Always striving to better their efforts and services to families in need.