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Friendship Circle Montreal Making History

Leaders of the friendship circle and community stand near the future site of construction of life village for children with special needs, the first of its kind in Canada. (L-R) Rabbi Leibele Rodal, Volunteer Leader, Milan Bratin, Vice President, Fred Dubrovsky, President, Dr. Douglas Avrith, Honorary President, Shulim Rubin, R & G Architects, Leslie Greenberg, Friendship Circle Friend, Rabbi Joseph Paris, Executive Director, Rabbi Dovid Russ, Project Coordinator.

MONTREAL, Canada [CHI] — Construction of the Friendship Centre and LifeTown™, a project of The Friendship Circle, is in full swing. To mark the progress, about 25 people gathered this Tuesday morning, August 25th, discussing and updating the exciting details. From donors to professionals, from staff to community figures, everyone present reaffirmed the importance of this project and expressed their personal commitment to its success.

When completed, this multi-million dollar Friendship Centre and LifeTown™ will be Canada’s first fully-functioning indoor city and activity center for children with special needs. It will occupy 26,000 square feet and offer therapeutic and recreational facilities. Its centerpiece, modeled after the LifeTown™ centre developed by the first ever Friendship Circle – a suburban Detroit institution, will be a full-scale, indoor mock city designed to help children acquire necessary life skills. This town is all indoors, completely safe and accessible only to those invited to come and play. The guests of honour are children with physical and intellectual disabilities who will learn about coping in the real world while they have fun.

“Friendship Centre and LifeTown™ will serve as a model, not just for other Friendship Circle chapters in Canada, but for other organizations dedicated to children with special needs across the country,” said Friendship Circle Honorary President Dr. Douglas Avrith. “This facility will help children with special needs achieve their highest potential. It also gives teenage volunteers an exceptional first-hand experience with community service, helping to instil the commitment to giving back to community.”

The Friendship Circle of Montreal was founded in 2001 as a vehicle to help children with special needs meet other children, overcome loneliness, develop skills and improve their confidence. The Friendship Circle pairs up teenage volunteers from 35 high schools and universities across Greater Montreal, providing assistance and support, and most of all friendship, through a variety of social programs and activities. The teen volunteers learn the priceless value of giving, the curative power of friendship, and the vital importance of integrating children with special needs into our communities. In addition, parents and siblings receive much needed respite and support. All in all, the project is a wonderful recipe for creating a brighter future for all those involved.

*The Friendship Circle is still in the midst of an $8 million capital campaign to complete this project, hopefully meeting its financial objectives in the near future. The organization is funded by community groups and individuals, but receives no government money. The ribbon cutting event is expected in February 2010.

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