Siblings & Friends Network – creating inclusion and equal access to opportunities for autistic persons

Siblings and Friends Network (SFN) is a charitable Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) advocating for Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) to be a place that is inclusive of those with autism and other special educational needs.  

Siblings & Friends Network founder – Maya and her autistic brother Rahul in a creative learning session at Rahul’s clubhouse set up with QCT’s support.

SFN is a vibrant youth volunteer organisation that is actively involved in creating opportunities for autistic young people, with a specific focus on those from central T&T to the deep south, the geographic areas most lacking in educational and therapy services. SFN is the only youth-based organisation advocating for autistic young people located in central/south of the island of Trinidad.  

SFN was founded in 2015 by Maya Nanan who wanted to create opportunities for her autistic brother and others with disabilities in T&T. Through SFN, Maya advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities, at all levels of society in Trinidad &Tobago. This is so that they can all have an opportunity to develop their full potential and live fulfilling lives. SFN has grown to creating equal access to opportunities for autistic people and currently has 275 autistic people who are registered members.  

Siblings & Friends volunteer Rianne facilitating visual and creative learning.

In May 2022, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) selected Maya Nanan’s application for funding alongside fourteen other Youth Ventures Programme (YVP) grant recipients. QCT’s funding allowed SFN to set up Rahul’s Clubhouse, an Autism-friendly space where individuals on the Autism spectrum can engage in educational and social activities to help them develop intellectually, mentally and emotionally. QCT has so far supported the renting of the clubhouse and all programmatic costs involved. QCT has also supported SFN in acquiring sensory play and learning material as well as the setting up of an agricultural project that will contribute to the sustainability of Rahul’s clubhouse.  

Since its opening, an average of 45 children visit the Clubhouse on a weekly basis and in the past six months, the clubhouse has scheduled 1000 plus sessions, with a waiting list of more than 30 autistic children. SFN has trained 25 youth volunteers to work with autistic children and 10 student teachers have developed skills in special needs education.  

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