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FLY NOW Friends Learning You Need One World

Eleven-year-old Alvin Hamilton had dreams of kids with disabilities having close friendships with kids without disabilities.

Alvin has been best friends with two young boys with autism since he was three years old. It is that friendship that has prepared him to teach others how to be a true friend. Today his dream has come true. Alvin created, the FLY NOW (Friends Learning You Need One World) project, with a grant from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County from Youth as Resources program.

“Kids with disabilities want to have what everyone wants — friends,” said Alvin. FLY NOW consists of a group of 17 kids without disabilities and 5 kids with disabilities from Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties ranging from age 5 to 13. They spend time together participating in a variety of recreational field trips including roller skating and swimming.

“The most important thing about being a FLY NOW buddy is learning how to have friends with disabilities,” said FLY NOW buddy Crystal, age 11. “It’s also important to have fun with your friends.”



Team meetings are conducted before each FLY NOW activity. The buddies meet at Shriners Hospital at USF and participate in a variety of autism awareness activities, discuss issues relating to autism and plans strategies to support their buddy in the community.

FLY NOW thanks many parent volunteers and students from USF that have been extremely helpful in the success of the group. FLY NOW wrapped up their summer activities with a luau pool party in August. Other trips throughout the summer included a Devil Rays baseball game, Great Explorations, Weeki Wachee, skating, bowling, Celebration Station and several pool parties. Thanks to a donation from Pepin Distributing, FLY NOW will continue with one activity per month through December 2001!