Peer Connect :: Ways to find connections to new people in mainstream community life
The information on this page is also available as a downloadable quick guide by clicking below. There are versions in pdf and word.
When people have only been a part of paid disability-related activities and groups, it can be hard to know where to start to make new connections and date new people in your area. This quick guide has some ideas for making new friends.
Finding a shared activity or interest is often the key to making new connections.
let’s make it happen
connect with others
Connecting with others in your community is an important part of belonging. making new friends and contacts helps you feel good and might help you find an activity you really enjoy, or even a job. Here are some ideas for ways you can connect with new people:
Volunteering your time is a great way to:
- meet people
- contribute to your community
- gain work experience and contacts to find work
You can volunteer in many places, including:
- community centres
- hospitals and nursing homes
- sports organizations
- faith-based groups
To find out more about volunteering, visit the volunteering australia website at https://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/ or ask your peers for some ideas.
see also the quick guide on volunteering
Participating in activities and programs at your local community center is also a great way to meet new people who share your interests. most neighborhoods have community centers that offer all kinds of activities and programs:
- health, fitness and recreation
- many other areas
For a list of community centres, visit your local library, search online or call your local council.
sports teams and sports centers
playing sports is another good way to meet new people of all ages. In most cities and towns, there are organized leagues for all the major sports at different skill and age levels. there are also sports centers where you can:
- enjoy fitness classes
- work out at the gym
- practice many other sports-related activities
join associations or social clubs
There are many opportunities for people with common interests to meet. examples include join:
- neighborhood groups
- culturally based groups
- book clubs
- game clubs
- music clubs , art or dance
You can find associations and clubs in your area by searching online or in the local newspaper, calling or visiting your local community centre, library or council. For more ideas, check out the Quick Guide: Ways to Find Opportunities in the General Community.
Perhaps the easiest thing of all is meeting new people in your neighborhood. Say hello to your neighbors, bring them a cake or some flowers. if you have children, you can also meet other parents at the local playground. maybe you could help organize a street party or a fruit or flower shop? Starting a small free library or food swap in your front yard is a sure way to attract locals too. (here is information on how to start a little free library: https://littlefreelibrary.org/start/)
get involved in your child’s school
Most schools encourage parents to support their child’s education by getting involved with the school or school board. There are many ways to help: from listening to the children read in the mornings, covering books in the library, helping in the lunchroom, coaching or managing a sports team, or just occasionally weeding. getting involved can help your child do better in school, as well as help you become part of a school community. Even if you don’t have children in school, many schools welcome the help of new people.
places of worship
many people enjoy a community of faith, which can meet at:
- other places of worship
Many of these communities host faith studies, community services, parent groups, and opportunities to share and make music. Faith communities are generally very welcoming to people interested in learning more and can be a great place to meet people and make friends.
specific disability groups
Sometimes it’s great to connect with other people with disabilities and share experiences. it can feel good to be with a community of people who “get it.” Joining a disability advocacy group or helping out at a disability-specific organization can be rewarding and a great opportunity to meet new people.
where you can find more information
for people with disabilities, angela novak amado, ph.d. at the University of Minnesota did this great resource called “Friends: Connecting People with Disabilities and Community Members” which you can download at: http://rtc.umn.edu/docs/friends_connecting_people_with_disabilities_and_community_members.pdf
co-authored with: the growing space