About Connection of Friends
Weekly programming emphasizes heavily on routine so participants will know what to expect whether they participate every day or a few days a week. To facilitate success for our participants, we have individualized visual schedules for those needing extra support as well as a “quiet room” for those participants needing to take a break or in need of sensory regulation. Please click on the calendar icon to see a sample of our week-day programming. To see what is planned for our Saturday Night Socials, click on any Saturday and you will be linked to a specific theme and schedule of activities.
Saturday Night Socials
Our SNS are held every Saturday from 6:00-9:00 pm and themed based on suggestions and input from our participants. Fees include dinner, (typically pizza) and dessert. Participants new to our Saturday Night Socials are paired up with a COF buddy to show them the ropes! All our participants are given a schedule for the evening and if needed, a sub-schedule for certain activities. Please click on the following links to see an example of our Buddy Checklist and a cupcake decorating sub-schedule.
Dinner & Dancing with Friends
Dinner & Dancing with Friends focuses on the preparation and eating of an evening meal. Participants not only prepare dinner, but continue to work on a variety of life skill activities including setting the table, manners, table conversation and cleaning up. Other details are as follows:
- Mondays from 3-6:00 pm
- Pre-determined menu for each Monday offered
- Visually supported recipes (click on link) Pizza Casserole
- Registration capped at 4 participants and filled on a first come, first served basis
- Flat fee
- Activity rotations, including dancing,
- Gluten Free or other dietary considerations are not available
Participants also have the opportunity to “review” each recipe at the end of the evening. Please click on the link to see an example of a “recipe review”.
Technology and Science Activities
As the recipients of a technology grant, COF purchased an iMac computer and printer as well as subscriptions to News 2 You and Unique Learning System. Participants have the opportunity to do an array of computer projects including emailing, personal newsletters, Mad Libs and templates that coincide with nutrition topics. News 2 You provides visually supported materials to navigate current news stories and Unique Learning explores monthly topics that include manners, leisure time, hygiene and restaurant skills.
Science continues to be a popular activity with our week-day participants with its focus on “cause and effect.” All experiments are visually supported with a series of questions to be discussed before, during and at the conclusion of each experiment. Our “scientists” have explored:
- Bending water with static
- Whether an orange floats or sinks
- Making rain clouds in a jar
Art is introduced in a variety of mediums with extra attention paid to sensory issues. Each week, art is assigned a “theme” as well as a medium to explore, (watercolor, chalk, pencils, clay, etc).
Using both instruments and singing, our participants explore a variety of topics including emotions, conversation skills, making friends and self-esteem. Participants are also exposed to different genres of music to incorporate rhythm and movement. Past activities have also included writing two original songs entitled “Here at Connection of Friends” (featured here) and “Friends, Friends, Friends.”
(click on link to hear song)
Fitness, yoga and nutrition, (healthy eating habits), are taught in a fun and engaging way. Topics explored include:
Healthy tips for eating out
Sugar count in beverages and snacks
- Correlating exercise to food (45 minutes of yoga=1 cookie)
Movement, dancing and exercise are programmed each day. The number of dances “danced” during programming are tracked visually with our “You’re on Fire” dance thermometer. A 30-minute yoga session is programmed weekly with a certified yoga volunteer.
Gardening and Nature
Our gardening program teaches our participants the fundamentals of planting and taking care of plants. Gardening activities include:
- Planting bean sprouts and lettuce indoors
- Planting flowers in personalized pots
- Creating a herb terrarium
- Transferring plants to our outdoor garden
- Planting a variety of vegetables including beans, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins and peppers
- Maintaining our 3 raised garden beds during the spring, summer and fall
Girl Scout Troop 50368 from St. Michael Parish School in Wheaton donated their time, (and materials), to construct a 3rd raised garden bed at Connection of Friends. The 3rd bed helps COF fulfill our commitment to provide vegetables to People’s Resource Center located in Wheaton.
In the Community
Connection of Friends volunteers with a variety of organizations within the community including:
- DuPage Convalescent Center
- Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans (MSHV)
- Glen Ellyn Food Pantry
- SCARCE (School and Community Assistance for Composting and Recycling Education)
Our commitment to volunteering also extends to ongoing community projects:
- Christmas in July Food Drive benefitting PRC and done in cooperation with Hope Presbyterian Church and Southminster Presbyterian Church
- Creating a series of “holiday” cards for the residents of DuPage Convalescent Center and Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans
- Donating vegetables from our 3rd Raised Garden Bed benefitting PRC
- Got Mitten? Hat, Mitten and Scarf drive benefitting MSHV
Community Lunch & Dessert
Participants are given the opportunity to practice their “dining out” and “money skills” at a variety of restaurants including Potbelly, Boston Market, Kilwin’s, Vanilla Sugar Bakery and Starbucks. Families receive menus prior to the session beginning so participants can chose their meals ahead of time. All outings are supported visually and community rules “reviewed” prior to leaving COF.
Glen Ellyn Public Library
The Glen Ellyn Public Library has partnered with Connection of Friends to create interactive and supported library activities which include library scavenger hunts; navigating music and movie catalogs as well as “behind the scenes” library activities. Each library visit is structured and schedules are provided to participants prior to leaving COF.
Participants are given the opportunity to create “products” to be sold at our fundraising events. Products include Bark-licious dog biscuits from scratch as well as a variety of recipe jars—More S’Mores Please, Outrageous Oatmeal Cookies, Bodacious Brownie Mix, Cravin’ Craisn Muffin Mix and Flippin’ for Flapjacks Pancake Mix.
Connection of Friends Heart & Soap with scents like Vanilla Coffee, Orange Oatmeal, Rosemary Lavender, Pumpkin Spice and Peppermint are also available for purchase throughout the year. For more information, please click on the COF Products tab.