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Winter 2006 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Building Relationships: "Friends of…Club"

By Tracy Jess, Consultant, Washington State Services for Children with Deaf-Blindness
Director, National Family Association for Deaf-Blind, Region 10

Abstract: This article gives an approach to utilize informal activities and supports within a formal structure to increase social and recreational networks.

Key Words: Family, deafblind, socialization, friends, recreation, supports.

We talk on the phone to a friend, order a latte, read the newspaper, go to a movie with a family member, hike, dance, go to church, sing in a choir, host a Tupperware party. Socializing and recreating are an essential part of our lives. These activities renew our energy, relax us, decrease stress, and give our lives balance.

For a person who is deafblind — with or without other disabilities — the focus too often is limited to academics, health issues, communication, orientation and mobility, transition, and daily living skills such as feeding, grooming, and bathing. Those of us who live with or teach these individuals often run out of time and energy to help support their needs for socialization and recreation, or we simply may not realize the importance of these activities. As a result, many people who are deaf-blind have too few opportunities to enjoy life.

The "Friends of…Club" (fill in the person's name) is one strategy to address this need.

What is the Friends of…Club?

What you need to begin:

Before the first meeting:

During the first meeting:

  1. Introduce everyone present and his or her relationship to the individual.
  2. Present a brief history of the person and the reason for the meeting.

    Sample: "Linda is graduating from school and enjoys doing the things on this list. We want to see her continue to grow and be involved with others. We have asked everyone here to help her by sharing some activities on a regular basis that may already be occurring in your lives or that you are interested in doing with her."
  3. Brainstorm to generate other ideas from friends and neighbors.
  4. Ask for a formal commitment and write down planned activities on a large calendar.
  5. Be accepting if people do not wish to commit to a specific activity or schedule, and permit the option of spontaneous or occasional activities.
  6. Get contact information (phone numbers, e-mail, and addresses) for "club" members.
  7. Allow time for questions, comments, and eating.
  8. The individual who is deaf-blind, or a friend or family member, commits to sending out a monthly schedule to all "Friend of. . .Club" members.
  9. Organize follow-up meetings as needed.

Sample Schedule

Utilizing this tool not only frees up some time for the caretaker, but also provides the deaf-blind individual with important opportunities to socialize and access recreational activities and live a healthy life-style.

    Friends of Tony Club Calendar - February 1998
    Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
    1 2 3 4 5
    7:00 pm
    Choir with Sam
    6 7
    10:00 am
    Grandparents for the day
    8 9 10
    Letter from Susie
    11 12 13 14
    1:30 pm
    Movie with Larry
    15
    4:30 pm Walk with Jimmy
    16 17
    6:30 pm
    Dinner with Pyles
    18
    7:00 pm
    Choir with Sam
    19 20
    9:00 am
    Swimming with Nina
    21
    22 23
    Letter from Susie
    24 25 26
    7:00 pm
    Phone call Lisa
    27 28

Utilizing this tool not only frees up some time for the caretaker, but also provides the deafblind individual with important opportunities to socialize and acccess recreational activities and live a healthy lifestyle.


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Last Revision: September 1, 2010