Between Friends – G.L.O.W
Between Friends is a charitable organization that provides quality social, recreation and development opportunities so that people with disabilities can connect, grow, and belong. Children, youth and adults with disabilities seek social and recreational activities that are fundamental to enriching self-esteem, quality of life, as well as mental and physical health. These programs become pivotal in the lives of our participants as they decrease the degree of isolation they may face.
G.L.O.W., which stands for Group Learning Opportunities and Workshops, is Between Friends newest endeavor. The programs goal is to promote wellness at home, at school, at work and in the community. G.L.O.W. piloted in the fall of 2021 and offered 12 different personal development and wellness workshops for people with disabilities. Topics included Cyber Safety, The Foundation of Feelings, Building Boundaries, and Budgeting Basics. These workshops were provided to our adult members for free and provided a fun environment to learn valuable skills. We were overwhelmed with the positive reception that this pilot program received.
Following the success of our pilot in 2021 we established GLOW as a permanent offering at Between Friends. Our spring season maintained the three central themes of Social & Emotional Development, Health & Wellness Strategies and Community Development. We maintained an audience of adult participants, and were thrilled to see a number of returning members.
Moving into 2023 our plan to to utilize external expert facilitators to expand our offerings of workshops to the community. These ideas include meditation, nutrition to relationship building. The funds through the Field Law Community Fund will assist us in being able to expand beyond our internal facilitators to truly expand the program. Also with this expansion comes expansion through marketing to the community beyond our membership base.
Who Will it Benefit?
The central assumption that has led to the creation of these workshops is that there are limited accessible educational opportunities currently available to a diverse group of people with disabilities. We conducted a community assessment to test this assumption. Our community assessment showed that many of the classes and workshops offered in Calgary are either financially or physically inaccessible, or do not indicate if their offerings are inclusive. We still currently have yet to find a series of workshops that provide a similarly diverse range of educational workshops as G.L.O.W. that are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities.
G.L.O.W. is innovative because it is designed to be mindful of and address the barriers that prevent access and engagement to educational opportunities for people with disabilities. Our primary goal is to ensure that everyone can feel included regardless of ability. In this light, there will be no prerequisite of skills, experience, or education to attend any of our workshops. All workshops will also take place in locations that are accessible to members who use wheelchairs and mobility aids.
Between friends as an organization is specifically capable of undertaking the development of G.L.O.W. as we have provided inclusive programs in the Calgary area for almost forty years. We are also one of the only agencies in Calgary that provides programs and services for all ages and all abilities. Everyone is welcome to participate in our programs, regardless of ability, age, gender, race, gender identity, religion or culture. As an inclusion leader in our community we are also frequently requested to train on the topics of inclusion and disability through our “Inclusion Training” model. This last year over 100 community members from different agencies attended our Inclusion Training. We are uniquely qualified and positioned in the community to provide inclusive workshops with both our qualified staff and an organizational expertise in inclusive program design.