Friendship Circle launches free vocational program for special needs students

The DeLamie Culinary Arts Program in action.

The Friendship Circle (Montreal) has launched, along with the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and Agence Ometz, the Soul Studio Art Program and the DeLamie Culinary Arts Program.

"These two innovative programs are designed to help young adults with special needs gain the necessary skills to earn income using their creative and culinary skills," says a Friendship Circle announcement. "In addition to vocational training, the programs aim to break stigmas and boundaries by showcasing the valuable abilities of individuals with special needs to the greater community."

The two programs follow the Social Integration Services Program set by the Quebec Ministry of Education.

Batya Willmott, Director of Development for Friendship circles, says the organization's mission "has always been about bridging the gap between young adults with special needs and the broader community.

"We are delighted to be collaborating with our generous and expert partners as they have allowed us to take our mission even further and help these young adults develop skills that can lead to fulfilling paid work that values their skills and talents. We also see this as a win for art lovers and patrons, as well employers who are recognizing the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace.”

The Soul Studio Art Program "offers an environment where students can explore, express and develop their individual artistic vision while learning how to become entrepreneurs by monetizing their artwork in an online environment and how to take a lead role in planning and executing art exhibitions. This program benefits from the generosity of the Nova grant."

The DeLamie Culinary Arts Program "will prepare students who have mild intellectual and learning disabilities to integrate into employment in the catering industry. Using our onsite professional kitchens, students will gain practical experience in real-world settings, as well as benefit from the soft skills-training they need to secure paid employment. Participants will also have the opportunity to take a paid internship under the leadership of Executive Chef Jeff Finkelstein of Montreal’s Hof Kelsten. This program benefits from the generosity of RBC."

Josef Paris, Executive Director of Friendship Circle, said the organization is "founded upon the idea that within each person is a soul with an inner strength and unique purpose that we have to bring to life. Our new vocational programs will enable individuals with special needs to develop independence, nurture talent, grow in confidence and participate in community life to their fullest."

The programs "are free and run from 9 am to 2pm Monday to Friday, from September 2020 until June 2021. Registration is limited to ensure ideal one-on-one attention and a supportive group dynamic." For more information, visit and/or


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.