Story Curated by Takyrah Anderson
Tell us your name and the name of the project or initiative you are involved with.
My name is Elaine Cray, I am the founder of a local grassroots initiative called The Special Friends Network (SFN) that has been running for almost 10 years, right here in Milton and the surrounding areas (Halton and Peel). The SFN brings together youth and young adults of all abilities to foster friendships and to be involved in the community. We do this through fun events such as bowling, dance parties, art sessions, book clubs and so many more fun activities. We also volunteer in the community at various venues, such as seniors’ and community dinners and lunches, the food bank, community clean-ups, and more.
What have you most loved and appreciated about the community project/initiative that you are involved in?
The Special Friends Network has brought joy to so many of its members. Watching these young folks with disabilities participate in events and outings, volunteer in the community, grow and develop friendships has been wonderful.
What is your connection to the project/initiative, and why is it so important to you?
I am the founder. It is my joy and passion. It is important because it gives opportunities that some may otherwise not have. It promotes inclusion and awareness in the community while fulfilling the needs of its members.
What is happening through the project/initiative that you would like to see more of?Opportunity for our young folks with disabilities to foster and nurture friendships, find opportunities to volunteer, enjoy events developed with them in mind (sensory-friendly, safe and inclusive). It also raises awareness and develops connections with others in the community.
What would you like to see happen next for the project/initiative?
I love watching SFN grow and reach more people. I want to make more connections in the community and find more volunteer opportunities and job opportunities for our members. Also, build on our community partnerships and allies. Raise awareness so that society becomes more inclusive. Ultimately, I would love to see an SFN in every community.
We need to spread the word to reach more individuals with disabilities AND to raise awareness in the community. Develop relationships and open doors.
If all those good things happened, what could be made possible in our community that wasn’t possible before?
We would see our youth and young adults with disabilities thrive. More doors would open, and we would be a more inclusive town, society and world. People would learn how to make their businesses, events and environments more inclusive. There would be less isolation and misunderstanding. No one would feel alone or left out.
Be a newsmaker!
What would happen if we celebrated what is strong in Halton?
Community Development Halton is interested in sharing the news of individuals, groups and organizations that are strength-based, working at the edges and the middle of issues of community well-being, social justice and community building in Halton.
If you are interested in sharing your story, please head to the following LINK. We are excited to hear from you!