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                Secondary School FRiENDS – Now in  its eighth year at Boca Raton

                Community Middle School.  Named Friday FRiENDS, the 90-minute after-

                school Club fosters social and emotional growth for students to benefit from

                and contribute to a safe and nurturing environment. A drama and social

                studies ESE teacher was chosen by the certified school guidance counselor

                to plan a social arts “class” for disengaged students. This successful pilot

                drew 13- 25 students regularly.  Word games, snack time, conversation, art

                and photography journaling, karaoke, and appearances in a DVD production

                have been favored activities. 


                Community service is now being considered for transitioned students who are

                returning on Fridays as “volunteers/interns” to help younger peers with the art

                of breaking through the silence of adolescence. Self- evaluations of the

                “returnees” indicate considerable social/emotional growth, ability to discuss

                mental health and illnesses, the importance of artistic expression, reduced

                absenteeism, and ability to form and maintain friendships. This highlights the

                need for FRiENDS in high school as an after-school club. 


              Community FRiENDS - An intergenerational monthly social and emotional                             group based on forms of expression chosen by attendees.  Youth aged 12-18  may                     attend with peers, family and therapists, where they share in guided

                discussions around films, & interactive artistic activities to increase optimism and a                     sense of belonging. These gatherings encourage empathy and  artistic expression                       which helps decrease feelings of isolation and labeling.  Monthly meetings are  

                planned and led by licensed professionals with experience in expressive arts (public                   speaking, writing, song, drawing, photography, video scripting). Guitar playing and                     conversations around Pizza are valued components. 

                FRiENDS meets monthly at Sugar Sand Park.

FRiENDS - The use of lower case “i” was introduced in the SAMHSA video,  entitled FRiENDS.

It is used here to maintain focus on the “I” or “Self” in all FRiENDS activities.

Rita Thrasher, Pres/CEO Boca Raton’s Promise




The Boca Raton Regional Hospital Foundation

The Jacobs Charitable Trust

Palm Beach Photographic Centre, West Palm Beach, FL

The Schmidt Family Foundation

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