Friendships are important in all of our lives.

In the simplest of terms, friendships make us happier. Forming personal bonds with others provides some of the most important benefits a person can have in life – honesty, compassion, affection, and the ability to be oneself without fear of judgment.

Most friendships are formed between people who have common interests, occupations, or backgrounds, but in some cases, friendships can be formed when people who otherwise would not have the opportunity to meet are formally introduced to each other. AHRC NYC’s Peer-to-Peer Friendships program provides high school students with opportunities to form one-to-one friendships with students with disabilities. As they participate in collaborative activities that foster socialization, companionship, and fun, young adults share in the power of friendship.

Making the Connection

On Friday, January 22, 2016, when 12 students from AHRC Middle/High School traveled to Poly Prep Academy, to spend the day with students of the academy. The visit began with a get-to-know-you exercise, which prompted the students to introduce themselves by sharing their personal interests, talents, and hobbies. The Middle/High School students toured the Poly Prep campus, and ate lunch in the school’s cafeteria. Afterward, students from both schools collaborated on a creative project, decorating cookies for all to enjoy.

At the end of the visit, the Poly Prep students accompanied the Middle/High School students to their bus, entertaining their new friends with music, songs and dances! Both groups of students were glad to have shared the day together, and after the visit, the students continued to correspond through “thank you” notes. Several of the students continue to communicate through email, and plans are in the works to create a formalized pen pal program. The students will meet again in April to celebrate Earth Day.