”Moooom! Can I share this picture of you?”

“What if I share a wrong picture, do I have to go to jail?”

That was the phrase I heard the most, when I started working with social media and people with developmental disabilities

Social media is not an easy ride for everyone.



Especially when it comes to sharing text, video, and images on the internet and especially on social media, our audience struggle to assess, if they are doing the right thing.

When I started working with social media for people with developmental disabilities, the phrase I heard the most was: “What if I share something that is wrong, and I have to go to jail for it?”

It was back in the winter of 2018, when the death video from Morocco made headlines and a number of fines and prison sentences were handed out. During the same period, a number of cases with sex videos were shared worldwide as a wildfire, and the fraud cases against people with developmental disabilities was growing.

Back in 2018 that meant - and it still means - that everyone knows a story about someone who had an unpleasant and unfortunate experiences on the internet and especially on social media.

There are so many rules about what you are allowed to share on social media and what you are not, and it can be difficult to know if you are sharing something you are not allowed to. The rules are not even the same in all countries. Therefore, it can be difficult to behave properly, and it all boils down to the fact, that YOU should feel safe online.

The same rules online as offline

The norms and rules that we live by in the physical world, are the same that we apply in the digital reality, and they are just as important to learn, know and remember as traffic regulations, queue culture and good table manners.

The better safe than sorry list

 

Feel free to share text, video or pictures of:

  • your face
  • yourself with clothes on
  • yourself in your swimsuit
  • your experiences (e.g., from trips and holidays you are on)
  • your pets
  • your things (but never share your address. Thieves can easily find you!)
  • food and drinks
  • flowers and nature
  • public places (e.g., from the Zoo, a museum, a park, lookout points, etc.)
  • your family and friends, but you have to ask them for permission, before sharing a photo of them.

 

Share text, video and pictures that:

  • tell a story about you and your life, that you want the world to see
  • is showing something, you want to tell the world

If you are ever in doubt whether to share an image on the internet, don’t do it. Your doubts are often a great guideline for knowing whether or not to share.


Always look at what you want to share and think about: is anybody going to be sad to see that picture of themselves? If yes, don’t share.

 

Do NOT share text, video or pictures of:

  • you or others without any clothes on
  • other people who have not agreed to you sharing their picture (this is called “consent”, and it means that they are ok with you sharing pictures, video and text, showing or mentioning them)
  • portrait photos of others (from a yearbook or similar)
  • other people’s misfortune, sorrow, grief, or accident
  • violence
  • sex and porn
  • animal cruelty
  • religious acts (e.g., people who pray)

 

A good rule to remember

Would you say, write or show it to your grandmother? If not, you probably shouldn’t share it online either.

 

We have built a Guardian support feature in the »We are Friends« App

It means that you, as a guardian, can support, help and overlook that everything is ok when your child is a member of the community.

The guardian account can be done in the registration or added later on, the options is always available.

 

Safety matters

In fact, our member’s safety is our highest priority. Adding a guardian is not the only way we protect our members; we have several layers of safety around our members as you can see here.

The »We are Friends« App is built as a safe and secure place to be. We know that the scammers are out there, we know they see our audience as an easy target and we do everything we can to keep them away from our community. Continuously, we built our safety net stronger and stronger.

Have questions about We are Friends? 
Of course! Feel free to send us a message right here

Interest is much more than something you have – it’s the core of everything we do in the App

I want you to meet Paul. Because Paul is such a great example of who one of our member-types is, and how he benefits from being a part of our online community.

Interest is much more than something you have – it’s the core of everything we build in the »We are Friends« App

I want you to meet Paul. Because Paul is such a great example of who one of our user-types is, and how he benefits from being a part of our online community.

Paul tells us his interest when he signs up in the »We Are Friends« App. The selections of interest will be the “friend and group finder” for Paul.

We suggest friends and groups that share the same interest, is in his area and within a certain age span. Our algorithm always starts with the interest and after that it adds more and more parameters to the search for friends and activities for Paul.

Of course Paul can do his own search based on all the interest and groups we will have in the app.

“We believe that joining a community/a group that shares your interest (small or big) is the best way to learn, develop, participate, enjoy, and engage. Having a mutual foundation helps ensure a successful experience from the beginning."

Starting a conversation with your shared interest of fishing, knitting, favorite music or something as small as a favorite tv show, gives you a good start and something to talk about and it takes away the pressure when meeting new friends online.
 
Let’s take an example
Let’s say that you enjoy baking like Paul. In the App, you click on the baking-icon and up comes a list of all the people in the app who enjoy baking.
 
Paul could start a conversation with a fellow baker with a: “What is your favorite thing to bake?” or “Are you baking cakes or bread?”, and instantly we have a conversation going, that goes so much easier than small talk. Small talk can be very hard to do – because Paul doesn’t know what his first question should be.
 
Talking about his baking is a completely different thing. Because he has something to put into that conversation.
 
Noticing and highlighting true similarities will not only make us feel more comfortable reaching out to others, it will also help us to be authentic and real. And that my friend, increases the chances of starting a good friendship.
 
Not just a friendship builder – it’s a good life builder

In the App Paul meets friends who shares his interests, and he joins partner groups who provides information, knowledge, activity, and events, that fits his interest and motivation.

Now he can get education, life learning lessons and be a part of different groups that teach him about baking, fishing, horseback riding or a group that has a Christmas activity in December.

We believe that joining a community/a group that shares your interest (small or big) is the best way to learn, develop, participate, enjoy, and engage.

Having a mutual foundation helps ensure a successful experience from the beginning.

We build the »We are Friends« App centered around interest, because it is much more than just something you have or do. It’s something you can use as an active asset and it grows and evolves with you the more you do it, the more you learn, and train and it grows even bigger and stronger when you do it with someone who shares that interest.

The team and I are ready to launch the »We are Friends« App on 30th of July 2021. Personally, I can’t wait to welcome our users and get to know them and their interests. We might share an interest or two.

 

I’m ready to welcome you all in our community!

All my best

Signe Naessing

Founder CEO

The gift of communicating – even if you can’t say anything

You dream of going on that fishing trip because you’ve never tried standing on that boat. Not even once.

Imagine that your big interest is fishing. You dream of being on a fishing boat and pulling one big fish out of the ocean after the other.

On TV and YouTube, you watch all there is about fishing, you have posters with fish on the walls of your room, and you look at the pictures in books about fishing.

You dream of going on that fishing trip because you’ve never tried standing on that boat. Not even once.

You are lonely, your best friend is your support person, and she/he is not really interested in fishing. You don’t know anyone who shares your interest. Not anybody you can talk to or show your pictures from your book.

Online or on social media you have tried to connect with others, but you’re not that great with words. Others struggle to understand you and you don’t write that well.

Maybe you wouldn’t call it great or real communication, but for our users, it can make a world of difference.

This scenario is the reality for many of our users

In fact, a similar situation is what gave our founder Signe the idea for »We Are Friends«. You can read the whole story right here

In the »We Are Friends« app, we strive for EVERYONE to have an opportunity to communicate in a form that suits them.

In the App our users communicate by video, pictures, audio or in writing. They can even use our preset sentences to describe how they feel, what they are doing, what makes them happy or sad, what they dream of and so much more.

Maybe you wouldn’t call it great or real communication, but for our users, it can make a world of difference. All of a sudden, they can tell others about their lives. Send photos and videos to friends they’ve made online themselves, tell their story on their profile page and show the world that they exist.

That’s an opportunity many of them didn’t have before. Can you imagine how good it would make them feel?

We give them a voice– even if they can’t say anything.

Right now, the team and I are putting all the pieces together and getting ready to launch the »We Are Friends« app July 30th, 2021. We can’t wait to welcome all our new friends in the app.
 

I will see you inside the community

All my best

Signe Naessing

Founder CEO

Going online with a community as a Summer Camp

When you combine offline activities with online activities you can reach a much wider audience and help even more people.

Wouldn’t you love, if you could go to one platform and communicate with the members of your community in an easy way and where you knew that they would get your message?

Wouldn’t it be something if you could learn from your users, and create training and education that they require? And wouldn’t it be special if you knew they want that exact type of education because they told you directly?

You can get that in an online community.
In fact, building an online community is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience. Furthermore, a well-run online community will also help you build trust, get the engagement that can take you to the next step in terms of your education, training, activities and much more.



Connect your members with a community which can help them with their challenges and where you, as an organization, can do what you do best with the initiatives and support you provide. Additionally, you can learn and create your courses, trainings, activities, and events based on what your members tell you they want.

We have previously covered how you can use an online special community if you provide a support activity like horseback riding or horse therapy.

Let me give you another example: today we are talking about summer camps and the benefits of a special online community.

To be specific, I’ll use a summer camp for people with learning, developmental and intellectual disabilities as an example.

Covid-19 has made life for camps, festivals, sports events, music events and holiday activities really hard.

Covid-19 shut down almost all activities

Covid-19 has made life for camps, festivals, sports events, music events and holiday activities really hard. And not only were nearly all of them closed in 2020 – most of them will stay closed in 2021 as well.

Here in Denmark, where I’m located, we sadly see a lot of them shutting down for good, since two years with no income has simply undermined the economy of these major events. Unfortunately, I see this happening all over the world.
It’s such a shame and it will affect our population of people with special needs in an extremely critical and somber way as they are now facing yet another summer with no activities at all.

Could there be a way of doing these activities online?

Here at We are Friends we think you can – and with the pandemic, which has made our world so different, going online will help you and your customers greatly. Not only will you be able to reach your users, members and audience in a way that works for them right now – because they cannot be there in person, but it will also give you a great way to keep in touch with them throughout the year. You can attract new users when the world once again opens up and we are back to ’business as ususal’ but it will also give you an opportunity to create revenue, because you can charge money for some of your online activities or trainings.

Let’s take the summer camp and have a look at what they could do.

Online you could:

  • Do activities that doesn’t require in person or equipment for the participant (paid option)
  • Share knowledge on how to prepare for your camp
  • Do a series of activities that take the user from A to Z (paid option)
  • Show how to do specific activities you normally provide in person
    Run a series of training that prepare the users for your program

Online you could tell:

  • The story of your event
  • What you do and how you do it
  • Who your users are and why
  • All the practical things (where to buy tickets, parking, price, toilet facilities, with or without helper …)

Online you could show:

  • A filmed tour of what to do at your event
    A filmed activity with the doers’ eyes (camera on the head/helmet) so the spectator gets the experience from the right angle and in the right pace
  • Where does it all take place? How does it look
  • Your staff
  • Who you are
  • What happens the first time a user comes to your place

And the list could go on and on.

When we launch, »We are Friends« for partners – in October – you can have your own community of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities who need your knowledge, your service, your activities.

So, let’s do summer camps- in real life and in the online world. I know you can do it, and I know that the benefits of going online with your service will give you a much bigger audience, a much bigger impact and much more awareness and that will lead to that more people will enjoy your summer camp.

I also know that all across the world people with special needs, with learning-, intellectual and developmental disabilities need you to show up online, so they can enjoy some satisfying activities in their lives and be excited for the future, knowing we will be able to do things together again.

My goal is to get your help and support to those who need it the most.

Do you think that an online special community would be a match for your organization, service or business?
Send me an e-mail at signe@wearefriends.today, and let’s brainstorm on how we can get you started the best way in your (new) online adventure.

I’m here to help.

Build an online special community around your service

Connect your members with a community who can help them with their challenges and where you as an organization can do what you do best with the activities and support you provide.

Let start with the basis. What is an online special community, and why your organization should have one?

A community is a group of people sharing a common interest.



An online community is a group of people sharing a common interest who use virtual platforms to communicate and pursue their interest.



An online special community is a group of special people with learning, developmental and intellectual disabilities sharing a common interest who use a virtual platform designed special to them to communicate and pursue their interest. 



 
But why should you as an organization build an online special community? 



The short answer is: To connect directly with your audience and population, so you can reach and support them better.



Building an online community is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience. Furthermore, a well-run online community will also help you build member trust.



And one major benefit of building an online community is that it can significantly increase customer retention and engagement.



Connect your members with a community who can help them with their challenges and where you as an organization can do what you do best with the activities and support you provide.

Let me give you an example

Let’s say that you provide horseback riding or horse therapy for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

You want to spread awareness about what you do, how you do it and why you are good at it. You know you are making a positive difference to those who come to you and you know they benefit greatly from it.

But maybe you have a hard time communicating with your audience and maybe you have a hard time getting more customers. And with Covid-19 hitting us all the job has just gotten much harder.

Can you do relate?

Right now, there is a chance that you right now thinking "I can’t do any with horseback riding online!”

But right now, there is a chance that you right now thinking “I can’t do any with horseback riding online!”

I think you can – and in this time with the pandemic which has made our world so different, going online will help you and your customers so much.

And my goal is to get your help and support out to those who need it the most. Our common special audience.

Online you could teach:
  • How to groom a horse
  • How to approach a horse
  • How to give a horse treat
  • Why a helmet is required
  • What clothes it is good to wear
Online you could tell:
  • The story of each horse, their name, favorite feed, their special traits, etc.
  • Why and how to do horse riding and therapy
  • Who do you have as customers?
  • All the practical things (parking, price, toilet facilities, with or without helper …)
Online you could show:
  • A ride filmed with the rider’s eyes (camera on the helmet) so the spectator gets the experience from the right angle and in the right pace
  • Where does it all take place? How does it look
  • Your staff
  • Who you are?
  • What happens the first time you go horseback riding

And the list could go on and on.

When we open, We are Friends – in two month time – you can have your own community of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities who looooooove horses and need your knowledge and your service.

So, let’s go horseback riding – in real life and in the online life. I know you can do it, and I know that the benefit of going online with your service will give you a much bigger audience, give you a much bigger impact and give you more awareness to your business and service and that will lead to more customers coming in.

Dreaming on having your own special community?

Do you think that an online special community would be a match for your organization, service or business? Send me an e-mail at signe@wearefriends.today, and let’s brainstorm on how we can get you started the best way in your (new) online adventure.

I’m here to help.

It all started that day …

It all started that day …

I met Peter.

Peter is developmentally disabled. He lives together with 30 others who also have a developmental disability.

I was so lucky to be invited to visit Peter in his new apartment. When I walked in, it was like I stepped into a big dream of fishing. All the walls were covered with posters of fish,fishing and fishing gear and there were piles of books and magazines all about fish and fishing.

 

Peter told me that he watched all the shows about fishing on TV and that he dreamt of standing on a fishing boat pulling one big fish out of the sea after another.

“I look at all the pictures in my books and magazines and then I dream,” he said and struck out with his arms against the stack of books and continued “I can’t read many words, but I can spell cod”.

 

I asked Peter how often he was on a fishing trip. He answered that he had never been on a fishing boat but that he had been to a lake 4 times.

 

Peter is 40 years old and does not have many friends, and those that he has are not in the least bit interested in fishing. Peter’s best friend is his contact educator. And they have tried to get Peter in some online groups about fishing, but because Peter needs help to read and write. He is dependent on the contact educator to keep the online communication going. But often, there is no time to help Peter with his reading and writing. Communication dies out quickly and Peter is once again without a community around his greatest interest.

 

Peter’s story hurt my heart. The idea of being completely alone and not having someone to share what you are most passionate about, what you dream so strongly about, was almost unbearable.

 

I thought to myself, “We have to do something, so that Peter can go fishing!”

And right there in Peter’s apartment, the idea for the friendship app came up.

Here, Peter could be able to meet others with the same great interest in fishing. It could be in his local area, or it could be from other places in the country. They should communicate with video and audio messages and Peter could also have the opportunity to find out what’s going on in sports, music, events, teaching, etc. in his local area that might be of interest to him

Maybe he could even find a new friend in his local area who also loves fishing. Maybe they could even go fishing together on a fishing boat, pulling one big fish out of the sea after another.

The first interest I wrote on the very first piece of paper about the app was: Fishing.

A friendly mission

At We Are Friends, our desire is to make life more fun, easier and full of self-help for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We believe in a better world and we are working to make a difference.

It’s part of We Are Friends’ mission to work with the heart and do something extra for others. We do this quite literally by giving part of our profits to friendship initiatives and ideas that can create good relationships both online and offline. And it is in our DNA that we are socially responsible in every way. Our motivation and motivation for making our friendship app

Help make a difference when it comes to breaking down loneliness.
We want to be the loving push in the back, which can give confidence and courage to be able to self communicate in a simple way that works for everyone, could bring the joy of “togetherness” even if you live at one end of the country and therefore only meet online
Being able to find friends for yourself based on a common interest and being able to give part of our profits to friendship initiatives and ideas that can create good relationships offline.

The goal is to offer people with intellectual and developmental disabilities a way to create new friendships and maintain relationships in a way that works for them and in a form that originates from their own desires.

Best regards

We are friends ♥