We CAN Be Friends: An Elementary School Program
Welcome We CAN Be Friends Schools!
We CAN Be Friends is a curriculum-based elementary school program provided by the Canucks Autism Network that teaches students the values of friendship, empathy and inclusion by using grade appropriate lesson plans, autism specific resources and awareness raising activities for the entire school.
Here is your step-by-step program guide.
Step One: Sign up for the We CAN Be Friends monthly e-newsletter
- Stay informed and get helpful tips each month! The monthly e-newsletter will help you stay on track with the WCBF program and keep you informed about program updates, upcoming events, contests, and other important information as well as new ideas and activities.
- Click HERE to sign up for the free monthly newsletter.
Step Two: Choose how you will access the program
- Option 1: Access the lesson plans online at no cost by clicking HERE.
- Option 2: Access the lesson plans online at no cost AND purchase the We CAN Be Friends Kit which includes the resources and materials needed to teach the lessons.
Please note: Some lessons do not require any supplementary resources. To see what is included in the kit, please click HERE. To purchase the WCBF kit, please click HERE.
Step Three: AsK permission from families
- It is important to make sure that the parent of the student with autism is aware and open to your class having this discussion. Every family has a different approach to the diagnosis. It is the family’s choice whether they want autism to be discussed in the classroom and how they would like it to be discussed. We kindly ask that you are respectful to each family’s wishes about sharing their child’s diagnosis when using these materials in your classroom. Please print this newsletter to send home to parents to inform them that your school will be running the We CAN Be Friends program. Click HERE to download the newsletter for parents.
- We ask that you also consider the student with autism’s own understanding of their diagnosis and whether they want to share their story with the class or not. In addition, consider the siblings of those with autism in your class and contact their parents as well.
- Please be aware of other students’ ability to identify the student with autism even without openly stating it. There are many lessons that do not mention the word “autism” and it is possible to teach students the values of friendship, empathy, and inclusion without ever mentioning the specific child’s diagnosis.
- Please see our Implementation Guide for more guidelines on being respectful to each family’s wishes about sharing their child’s diagnosis when using these materials in your classroom.
Step FOUR: Consider who will teach the lessons at your school
- The lesson plans are designed to be taught in a classroom setting and have incorporated Provincial Learning Outcomes into the curriculum. Some options for teaching the lessons include:
- Each teacher at the school uses the lesson plans in their own classroom.
- The resource teacher, principal, vice-principal, special education assistant, or school counsellor delivers the lessons throughout the school.
- A student teacher or school volunteer delivers the lessons throughout the school.
- School district staff deliver the lessons in various schools throughout the district.
Step Five: review the implementation guide
- This webpage contains an overview of the steps to run the program; however the Guide contains further details about everything you need to know when running the WCBF program and will help you with delivering the program at your school.
- Click HERE to download the Implementation Guide
Step six: Review information about autism
- It may be helpful to explain what autism is to your classroom. Our What is Autism? document is a kid-friendly reference sheet from the Autism Society of America that provides helpful information about what autism is and how to explain it to children. Click HERE to download the What is Autism? reference sheet.
- In addition, we have complied a list of questions students have asked in their classes when talking about autism and have provided you with answers to these questions to help guide your discussion. Click HERE to download the Student’s FAQ document.
Step sEVEN: Begin teaching the lessons
- To access the We CAN Be Friends lessons please click HERE.
- You do not need to teach the lessons in a particular order. You can choose when to teach the lessons – some will teach the lessons throughout the year and others will teach all lessons in April during Autism Awareness Month.
- The lesson plans are designed to guide your teaching; please adapt them as necessary to suit the needs of your particular class. A suggested timeline is provided in the lesson plan; however, you may take as much time as you need to complete each lesson.
Step EIGHT: Plan an Autism Awareness event
- April is World Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. We invite all of our We CAN Be Friends schools to spread awareness by hosting their own Autism Awareness events in April. Here is a list of great ways schools in which have celebrated:
- School assembly (guest speakers, student presentations, videos, etc.)
- An awareness walk around the school with banners and signs
- Choose a day to wear blue as a sign of support for autism awareness
- Raise funds for Canucks Autism Network through our Jersey Fundraising Campaign where students donate $2 to write their name on a cardboard jersey cutout and receive a CAN bracelet. The jersey cutouts can be displayed in hallways and classrooms. Click HERE to learn more.
- Students watch videos from our I CAN Share My Story project where 12 individuals with autism discuss their personal experience with the diagnosis. Click HERE for the videos and the Conversation Guide to assist you with your discussions.
Step NINE: Send us student work and feedback on the program
- We want to hear from you! If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback about the We CAN Be Friends program, please contact our Program Coordinator, Darcie Domes, at 604.685.4049 ext. 214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Any student work you would like to send to us can be scanned and emailed to email@example.com, faxed to 604.685.4018, or mailed to our address below. Thank you!
Canucks Autism Network
101-2020 Yukon Street
Step Ten – Have fun!