The walk will raise funds for The Friendship Circle and is also intended to raise awareness for those with special needs, according to Elisheva Green, executive director of The Friendship Circle SD. Parking for the event is free, shuttle services will be provided and the route is wheelchair and stroller-friendly.
Registration was free up to May 7 but now cost $20.
Green says the organization doesn’t have an estimate of how many people will attend the walk, but she is hoping the count reaches 1,000 participants.
Registration is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., during which time the Friendship Fair will put on a variety of entertainment, including a live DJ, Big Animals for Little Kids and a puppet show.
The walk will begin at 1:30 p.m. and should take about an hour, according to Green. Along the walk, there will be free giveaways, particularly for the children. Eight interactive stations will be set up along the way, each one representing one of The Friendship Circle’s programs. There is also a station specifically for relaxing that is included for children with autism or those who are easily overwhelmed. Green says the station offers calming music, water and big inflatable chairs to give people a chance to relax amid all the activity.
The walk will be immediately followed by Israel Fest, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of San Diego from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The Friendship Circle focuses primarily on the children and wants to reach the teenagers who are paired up with them. The organization wants to change the attitude of teenagers because those who work with The Friendship Circle are “the best kids in the schools” and are “the future leaders,” according to Green.
“When we have a new volunteer, the first time they come, they just see the disability. But in time they’ve been paired up with the same child a couple of times, they don’t even see the disability anymore. Then they start to see the child and see what the child can do,” says Green.
Green encourages students in the community to approach those in their schools who always sit alone because those who are isolated may have disabilities, particularly cognitive disabilities.
According to Green, some individuals with cognitive disabilities, such as autism or Asperger’s syndrome, may not know how to approach people or make friends.
“It can make a world of difference if you just say hello to somebody,” Green says.