For 20 years Friendship Adventures has provided social opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Hoedown
By Katy Boyd

It started with a lunch out after Special Olympics bowling and has become so much more. Friendship Adventures is a 501c3 organization that helps and supports adults with developmental disabilities. 

Maureen Browning, Founder & Director, saw a void in her brother Dean Harrison’s life. He was an adult with Down syndrome. As his interest in sports and Special Olympics started to lessen, his social circle started to shrink.

After high school, many adults with developmental disabilities do not have as much social interaction with their peers. Many live in group homes or with caregivers that don’t have the means to provide social opportunities. 

Imagine not being able to meet up with friends and catch up over a cup of coffee or a meal. Imagine sitting at home and only communicating with your family or housemates for months and months at a time.

Halloween party

In 2004, Maureen saw the value in bringing adults with disabilities together in a more social atmosphere and she decided to plan a few events for her brother and his buddies. She started with a bingo night and a small Halloween dance and word spread about these gatherings. 

The next game night she planned to host had an overwhelming response and she knew she was on to something. A few months later, Friendship Adventures was formed.

They started with some dances and more game nights and then the calendar evolved into overnight trips, summer camp, bigger events and added some educational activities. They wanted to create social, recreational and educational events and activities that promoted inclusion and confidence while creating lifelong friendships. 

Friendship Prom

The Friendship “Prom” was brainstormed and to this day has been their most popular and best attended event, this year taking place on Saturday, June 22nd. They procure formal wear and dress donations, have make-up and hair artists donate their time and supplies and everyone who attends gets to dress up, enjoy a nice dinner and dance the night away.

In addition to their social events, they created educational opportunities for the participants. They started music and drama classes, cooking classes and fitness movement classes, all of which have been very beneficial to the overall health of this special population.

Covid had an extreme impact on this underserved population. As many of their participants struggled with creating or preserving friendships & relationships on their own, the stay-at-home order halted any development in this area. 

Many felt disconnected from the outside world and the removal of activities and human interaction removed the connections they had formed at previous events. Maureen felt it was necessary to get back together as soon as possible and with the help of a collaborative team, Friendship Academy and the day program was established.

Yoga and movement classes

The academy continues to host music and drama classes and has added more art classes, yoga, cheerleading and movement classes.

The day program has been a wonderful addition for their participants. It allows them to gather on a more regular basis where they can continue to form bonds with their peers, learn new skills and experience new adventures. 

The day program, run by wonderful staff and a plethora of experienced instructors and volunteers, is currently based in Shoreline. They have a daily lesson and take weekly field trips to discover fun and local gems found around the Pacific Northwest. The scheduled programming and classes allow for all abilities. 

Everyone is different and every disability is different. There are wheelchair-bound members that wouldn’t typically get to participate in some of the activities they provide like yoga or art, but the skilled and caring instructors modify exercises and lesson plans and support all attendees. Inclusion is in their mission statement; it is their number one priority.

Cooking class

In July, Friendship Adventures will be celebrating 20 years of friendship and events. They will be kicking off their 21st year with a special Anniversary party on August 3rd. 

Country music stars James Carothers and Andy Varner from Nashville will be featured at the party and will be playing in celebration of this milestone. 

“It has been a whirlwind since our inception in 2004. The bonds and friendships that have been formed are so heartwarming to watch” said Maureen Browning. 
“Many of our participants have really found the confidence to interact with others and establish lifelong friendships that go beyond our events. We are friendship matchmakers and activity directors, but most importantly, we are friends. 
"We provide a safe place for our participants to gather and socialize without judgement or harassment”


Anonymous,  June 23, 2024 at 10:35 AM  

This is the most much needed,wonderful,caring,exceptional program out there. And the hard working giving staff n volunteers are the best.The world needs more organizations n caring people such as this. Thank You Friendship Adventures.

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