A little boy with a smile that lights up the room but who can’t tell you that he is happy. An older brother who is his hero and parents who would go to the ends of the earth to enable Archer to be all that he can be.
Archer, his brother Luca and his parents Naomi and Daniel are a family who have been embraced by the Friendship Circle family and whose hands we have been privileged to hold during hospital admissions, communication challenges and NDIS negotiations.
This is their story…….
Prior to Friendship Circle, Archer had few friends he could call his own and limited extra curricular activities. As is the case with any young child, it was difficult trying to fill his days with relevant, meaningful and stimulating activities. It only took one visit to Friendship Circle for us to feel that we had finally found an organisation who could help fill the void.
It’s the intangibles that make Friendship Circle such an important and unique experience for us all. To us, Friendship Circle is synonymous with love, devotion, compassion, understanding, a sense of belonging, selflessness and unwavering acceptance. Nothing is too much trouble nor is any hurdle insurmountable. Whether it’s through the relationships Archer builds with his buddies, Luca’s excitement at attending the sibling programme or the offer of home visits and practical help in times of need, Friendship Circle is there every step of the way. Our involvement with them has changed our lives in a very, very positive way.
Although Archer can not speak, pulling out the purple Friendship Circle t-shirt or merely mentioning the “F” and “C” words are met with rapturous laughter and a smile as big as Luna Park. Aside from the mention of his grandparents, we struggle to think of when we see a comparable show of excitement. During any interaction with Friendship circle Archer is embraced, loved and engaged by all volunteer buddies and Friendship Circle staff alike. Archer doesn’t only feel as if he belongs and is accepted, but for a couple of hours or so he’s the king of the castle. Although Archer predominantly communicates through his iPad, his Friendship Circle buddies have designed and developed other communication strategies that cater to his needs. Given that Archer’s strength is his reading, communication may involve a sheet of stickers with singular words that he can give out to everyone; questions written onto a whiteboard or visual prompts with clear and concise choices that enable him to be heard. These are great examples of how Friendship Circle use their initiative to develop tailor made programmes for their participants. Either way, there are few, if any, other places that enable Archer to feel so nurtured, understood, safe and empowered.
From a parent’s perspective, there is no equal to experiencing the unbridled joy expressed by your child, purely because a buddy spent some time with them and made the effort to communicate with them and not at them. It’s the equivalent to paradise … on steroids … and that’s what Friendship Circle means to our family.
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