Friendship Circle brought Allie and her Buddy Amanda together, changing their lives for the better.

Sponsored by Friendship Circle

Photography by Brett Mountain

When Josh and Jodie Jacobs’ daughter Allie was diagnosed with Infantile Spasm Syndrome, they didn’t know what her life would look like. The second daughter in the Jacobs family, Allie suffered long-term cognitive and developmental delays. But those delays haven’t stopped her from making and becoming an amazing friend thanks to Friendship Circle.

The Jacobs hoped Friendship Circle would be a support system for them to help Allie participate in activities and connect with other children. She began attending after school and weekend programs at age 3. Barely able to walk and still learning much of her speech, Allie was welcomed with open arms and met Amanda Smith, her first Buddy.

“I was a sophomore in high school when I met Allie,” Smith says. “Becoming her Buddy changed the path of my life. I fell in love with working with kids with special needs. I learned how they see life and love everyone.”

Amanda is now on staff at Friendship Circle as a volunteer coordinator helping to connect teens with the Buddies who will change their lives.

Now in sixth grade, Allie can be seen surrounded by other children with various special needs playing with their Buddies.

“Friendship Circle has become a second home,” Jodie says. “This is the only place she can really be herself. Kids have the most growth in places where they can be the most comfortable, and we see that here for Allie.”

Josh adds, “When you have a child with special needs, you’re not sure how to dream for them or what they will accomplish. Friendship Circle has opened opportunities for Allie’s entire life. We now know she is able to be a great friend. We have hopes for her that we didn’t imagine before.

“Whether you have a child with special needs or are looking for something to support, come and see these programs and the people helping right in our community,” Josh adds. “Don’t be afraid to reach out. The help and support are here.”

To get involved, go to http://friendshipcircle.org/foreverfriendship

Read more: Creating a Circle of Friendship with After-School and Sunday Circle Programs

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