With spring in the air, sprouting plants and budding flowers are on our minds. Here in Miami this past week there was another sort of sprouting, that of friendship. Daniel Cohen celebrated his bar mitzvah this past Monday. This celebration is usually synonymous with lots of partying for the newly minted adult and his young friends, for Daniel this event took on a deeper meaning. Daniel was about to celebrate his bar mitzvah and this special milestone with only his family and close family friends. You see, Daniel is on the autism spectrum; friends don’t come easy.
Within the last two years, a national organization has made its way here to South Florida to make all this possible. The Friendship Circle of Miami Beach and North Dade connects teenagers from the community together with children with special needs. Weekly home visitation, cooking programs, sports programs, holiday programs, trips, and other activities are all different venues coordinated by The Friendship Circle to allow them to hang out with each other and develop genuine friendships.
Among the close family friends celebrating this special milestone with David at his bar mitzvah were Zeke, Mosey, and Charlie. The Smile on Daniels face is all they needed to know that he appreciates them. As Mrs. Cohen says, they are his only friends. At first glance, you may assume that the only beneficiary of this friendship is Daniel. However, truth be told, the volunteers themselves benefit tremendously from the experience.
These are your everydayteens, our sons and daughters, who have all the other ingredients for success in today’s society. For them to experience the power of true giving at such a young age is truly unique. Teenagers by nature can be self-centered but when they learn to give of themselves, it has a lasting impact on the direction of their lives. At this pivotal stage, when the world worries about bullying in the classroom, a program like The Friendship Circle shows teenagers the importance of giving to others and builds a foundation of acceptance.
On Monday May 21st The Friendship Circle will be hosting a program to celebrate these friendships by honoring the teenagers who learn to give, and the children who are the great teachers. As the current school year nears its end, they are already planning and working towards growing this circle of friends for the coming year. If you know of any families, teenagers and community members who are interested in this program please feel free to contact The Friendship Circle of Miami Beach and North Dade.
For more information and for ways to get involved please visit their website at www.fcmiami.org