Parent Lounge and Lobby Area
We’re all about creating and supporting friendships and we think parents are, “fair game.” For those times when dropping off and picking up leaves little time in between, the Parent lounge will provide a comfortable spot to refuel, meet other parents, and make friends. We will also have a schedule of classes and other parent-oriented events taking place in the Lounge.
Schwartz “We All Belong” Mirror Mural
We will never be able to truly stand in someone else’s shoes and experience life from their perspective. But, this mirror mural is the next best thing. Being able to see your reflection, in someone else, helps foster understanding, compassion, and all the beautiful qualities friendships are made of. To enter the Friendship Circle Fun Zone, you’ll have to step into our “We All Belong” mural and realize the important role you play in completing the picture and building an inclusive community. We all have a place in the World and we ALL belong.
Rusgo Family Entry Tunnel – Please Touch
How many times have you heard, “Look with your eyes, and not with your hands!” That works for some, but not for everyone. Many of our friends need to use their hands to “look” and learn; they need to touch and feel to really understand. Our entry tunnel, from the Lobby area into the magical world of Friendship Circle, will boast a therapeutic element of fun to engage the senses with color, texture and design. No need to hold back, these sensory walls will be all about exploration, engagement and learning fun.
Ready, set, let’s interact!
Jeremy’s Dream Room
This multi-sensory environment provides a calming space where participants can engage their senses and find comfort in various sights, sounds, and feelings. From bubble machines to colorful fiber-optic light displays, and soft vibrations, each item in the Snoezelen-inspired room is designed to stimulate the senses and provide a calming respite from the busy world. Best of all, you’ll be able to choose any nature background setting for all four walls. Think Beach, Rain Forest, Mountains & more!
In memory of our dear friend Jeremy Alpern (Cantor), OBM who spoke without needing words and touched each of our lives with his bright smile and hardy laugh. Dedicated in his memory, this would have been Jeremy’s Dream Room.
Special Friends, Teen Friends, and Therapists
Art & Creativity Spot
Art is recognized as an important way for people with special needs to express themselves; especially when other forms of communication are more difficult. Utilizing a variety of materials, for varying levels of complexity, the art room will encourage each individual to show off his/her interests and creative ability.
Keeping the room finishes neutral in color will create a backdrop for our friends’ art to truly take the spotlight. This space will allow for free-form, structured art, and art therapy all in a relaxed atmosphere.
Special Friends, Teen Friends, ZABS Talent, After-School Programs, Families, School Groups, Youth Groups, and Therapists.
Inclusive art programs, lessons, therapy sessions and various activities for individuals with special needs and their typically-developing peers will take place here. Upcycling University classes, a project of ZABS Place, will also be taught in this space.
Barbara Leve Music & Movement Studio
With a dedicated space created to foster inclusive movement & music activities, children and teens of all abilities will be able to practice their technique and have fun. With the help of Music and Dance classes, Drum Circles, Yoga, Martial Arts, and Improv Acting, we’ll be able to focus on physical and cognitive development, motor planning and coordination, as well as sensory integration and social skill building… and it will be FUN!
Special Friends, Teen Friends, After-School Programs, Families, Youth Groups, Therapists, Movement Instructors, and Drama Teachers.
Dance classes, Music lessons, Martial Arts, Drama & Acting sessions… This space will “switch hats” many times a day and throughout the week. We can’t wait!
Sklut Family Friendship Loft
In Honor of Bashia and Mason Sklut
Our Musical Stairs will encourage interaction and social experiences as it leads visitors up to a large loft area specifically designed for hanging out with friends. Boasting sensory hammocks, a wheelchair lift, and a realistic walk-in Tree House stocked with games and books for enjoying together, there will be plenty to experience before descending the loft through the Friendship TubeSlide.
This area will be a go-to quieter spot for Friends to hang out with each other above the action happening in the Park below. Siblings will also be welcome to come on up and curl up with a good book or pull out a game to play with a new friend.
Dan’s Friendship Tree House
When you just need to get away and play a game with a friend… or read a book… or tell stories… or tell jokes… What better place than a tree house? It’s up high where you have a great view but it’s away from the noise and you can hear the birds chirp and you’re totally removed from all the busy fun below.
In memory of our dear friend Dan Abitol, OBM who had a strong connection to his roots, a big heart, and so many good deeds that created a beautiful canopy to shield those he loved from the elements of life.
Indoor Natural Sensory Park
What happens when you bring the joy of the outdoors inside and add sensory-friendly elements without the worries of weather? We’ve set out to create a space that offers something for all ages, stages, and abilities. With its natural color scheme, realistic features including trees, hills, and “stone” climbing wall this play areas will be equally inviting to our older friends who might otherwise feel “too old” to enjoy certain play areas.
Other features include: Interchangeable sensory swings, trampoline “creek” and foam pit, zip-line and ball pit, and other specialty equipment. This room is designed to facilitate the development of gross motor skills in a fun and friendly environment.
The Sensory Park will be one of the most active parts of the new Friendship Circle center. With so many fun activities to enjoy in such a welcoming environment, our friends will never guess they’re actually learning and building physical, cognitive, developmental, and interpersonal skills. Shh! Don’t spill the beans. With its many accessibility features, it may be the first time many friends will experience a zip-line, a jungle gym, or climbing a rock wall.
Who doesn’t love spending a day in the park with friends?
Longleaf Fund Obstacle Climbing Area
This natural climbing area, being built by Beanstalk Builders, was custom designed for our friends and is made from real trees. With accessible elements including a 16′ ramp enclosed in netting, a “foam tube” forest, a log stump walk/wheelchair obstacle course leading to the wheelchair lift, and lots of textures, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.
The Longleaf Beanstalk Climbing Area will be a great place for our friends to hangout and test their limits as they explore new ways to play and socialize. Whether it’s practicing balance, racing through the foam forest, relaxing in the suspended hammock, or navigating the ramp, this solidly built structure will withstand all the fun and friendship coming its way.
Raffler Family UMatter Teen Leadership Hub
The room will serve as a headquarters for planning and programming for Teen Friends, UMatter Teens, and Junior Teen Friends. Teens will also find a welcoming place to hang out and enjoy, before and after programs. Equipped with a homework-helper corner, recreational equipment, snack bar and best of all a UMatter Wall where they can network with others and see their ideas take shape and impact others in positive ways.
Every teen needs a space, with a positive atmosphere, in which to hang out with their peers.
Teen Friends, Youth Groups, and UMatter School Ambassadors.
The lounge will be a place where teens can meet others who are just as committed to making a difference in the World. Leadership Coaching, UMatter Ambassador Meetings, Support Group meetups, Teen-focused classes, and plain old “chill time” will all be held in the teen-designed space.
Friendship Nerve Center – Offices
The main offices will serve as more than just the nerve-center for all Friendship Circle and UMatter programs; they will offer opportunities for job training and skill-building for our older Friends. Cheerful and bright, with lots of storage, we’ve got to pack lots into this behind-the-scenes space.
Friendship Circle Staff, Therapists, and Special Talent-in-Training.
While we do have homes, and we even sleep a few hours each night, Friendship Circle is our second home. There’s hardly a time we’re not here. Want to chat? Have something on your mind? Drop in or text or call, we’re always here for you.