The Real Friends Project

The Real Friends Project


The Real Friends Project is a new effort, under the auspices of The Arc of Massachusetts, funded by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. 


Everyone needs friends!

People with friends are happier.  People with friends are healthier.  People with friends are safer.


Engaging in relationships that might blossom into friendships can be especially challenging to people of all ages who happen to have disabilities. Despite decades of great advancements in disability rights and efforts at inclusion we still have lots of inaccessible communities, substantially separate educational opportunities, group homes, sheltered work, etc. Because of these dynamics, relationships for people with disabilities are often limited to family members, paid staff and other people with disabilities. There is absolutely nothing “wrong” with these relationships and, in fact, they may be critical to the individual. But people—all people—benefit greatly by a diversity of relationships. 


The primary purpose of The Real Friends Project is to explore the benefits of relationships between people with disabilities and people without disabilities and to provide information about resources to help interested individuals engage in and sustain those relationships.



Friends Information by Age



Resources and Friends Initiatives



Other Sites for Assistance


Kids (0-13)


Transition Aged Youth (14-22)


Adults (22+) 

Learn here about the mini-grants for 2013-2014 to advance Friendships! 
The power point attached here includes discussion and resources on building relationships between people with disabilities and people without disabilities of all ages.


What is a friend? --- We have chemistry! We enjoy each other’s company. We trust, understand, respect and appreciate each other. We like how we feel when we’re together. We are close even when we are apart. We look forward to being together. We commit over some time. We give to each other. We may not give in the same way but what we give and what we receive is of great value to each of us.          

We need your help!  If you have any pictures, stories, or videos that positively represent relationships between people with and without disabilities, please share them with us.  Likewise, if you are aware of any programs--formal or informal--that consciously address such relationships, we'd like to hear about them, too!



Contact The Real Friends Project Staff:

Western and Central MA

Click to email Mary Ann Brennen

Phone: 617-921-9876

NE, Metro-Boston and SE MA

Click to email Jim Ross

Phone: 508-822-1575