The True Friendships Project

Three Black and disabled folx (a non-binary person resting one hand on the wall and the other on her cane, a non-binary person sitting in a power wheelchair, and a femme leaning while standing) rest and chat outdoors on a sunny day.

About the True Friendships Project

Logo that reads: True Friendships: Friendship is for Everyone!

Values Into Action PA was awarded the Authentic Friendships grant by the PA Developmental Disabilities Council. We are calling this the “True Friendships Project”.

The True Friendships Project hopes to make it easier for people with disabilities to make and keep friends. The True Friendships Project is focused on creating opportunity and capacity for friendships for all.

The True Friendships Project is led by the Project Advisory Workgroup (PAW) that includes people with disabilities, family members and professionals in the disability community. Robert Zotynia and Jamie Lisberger, Self-Advocates, and Kristina “Tina” Steinbacher are the Project Coordinators who oversee the Project Advisory Workgroup.

Robert Zotynia is a 36-year old artist, self-advocate and change maker. Robert was born with cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, communication challenges, and a visual impairment but he will never let these labels define him.

Jamie Lisberger is a Co-Coordinator of The True Friendships Project’s Advisory Work Group.  She graduated high school in 2010, and attends classes at DCCC. Jamie like animals, reading comic books, and watching movies/ TV shows. She hopes to inform and help educate people about all different types of disabilities. Jamie would like to help individuals with or without disabilities form friendships. 

Kristina “Tina” Steinbacher is the Co-Coordinator (with my friend Robert) of the True Friendship Project Advisory Workgroup. She’s been with Values into Action for 5 years as a Supports Broker and 3 of those years also as the Participant Directed Services Liaison.

True Friendship Project Partners

  • Open Future Learning,
  • PA Education for All Coalition (PEAC),
  • Disability Pride PA,
  • The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University

Get Involved with the True Friendship Project

The True Friendships Project with Values Into Action invites YOU to attend our Learning Sessions all about communication!

In these sessions, we will discuss the many ways people communicate and some of the barriers to communication and how to work around them. Additionally…

  • We will learn about how to be a good listener to friends, family, and people you work with.
  • We will also look at some tools you can use to help build connections and friendships for and with people with disabilities.
  • Finally, we will have a chance to test out some of the new skills we learn and connect with one another.

There is a session designed for Self-Advocates and family members, and a session designed for professionals, with information and learning opportunities unique to each group.

We will also hold Technical Assistance sessions for each group that will dig deeper into the tools, tips, and tricks for building friendships through communication.

**Please note you can only attend a Technical Assistance Session if you went to the Self-Advocate/family session or professional session. The registration form for the Technical Assistance Sessions will be sent out after February 12th.**

Schedule of Events

Learning Session – Thursday, February 8th, 2024; 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM: Professional Session

Learning Session – Monday, February 12th, 2024; 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM: Self-Advocates, Family & Friends Session

Technical Assistance Session – Wednesday, February 21st, 2024; 630 PM – 7:30 PM: Self-Advocates, Family & Friends Session

Technical Assistance Session – Thursday, February 29th, 2024; 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Professionals

Register for February 8th and February 12th, 2024’s Learning Sessions.

Tell Us What You Think

We are asking for people to complete a survey on friendships. Your responses will help us to create Learning Sessions to help create capacity for making and keeping friends.

Share your perspective and experiences on friendship by taking the True Friendships Survey!

Scan the QR code with your smart phone to access the survey or click the button below.

Black and white QR code

Share Resources

We are creating a Relationship Resource Guide that will soon be made public. You are invited to submit resources that you find useful for meeting and making friends.

Coming in 2024:
Learning Sessions! We will be hosting online webinars on how to make and keep friends during 2024. Stay tuned for the schedule of dates.

This project is funded by Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council

Photo attributed to Disabled And Here project. Photo was taken by Chona Kasinger.