Welcome classes

About Friends & Stars, Inc.

A Caring Community Supporting the Arts for individuals with Different Abilities

Arts & Disabilities
Bringing Awareness Through Art


At Friends & Stars, Inc., we are focused on providing high-quality, creative Arts Programming to our club members (who we always refer to as Stars), their parents and caregivers. Our Saturday OPEN STUDIO meets every Saturday between 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm and now serves children and adults with disabilities and the general public. Join us at the Learning Center: 1570 Smith Road, Ochlocknee, Georgia 31773.

It is our vision to give our Stars the opportunity to learn to create artwork taught by professional artists as  instructors and showcase their talent in a variety of venues. Our Stars create artwork in series; 3-6 week projects focus on sustained learning. Stars are encouraged to create items from scratch while improving fine motor skills during the production of their artworks.

We offer ART CLASSES to individuals, schools and group homes. We are open to discuss YOUR special art programming needs. Classes offered: Painting, Pastels, Drawings, Ceramics, Sculpture, Leather, Glass, Decoupage creations, Fabric and much more.
Call today to discuss a specialized program for your school or organization (305) 469-6009 or (229) 683-0015 Learning Center.

For more information about our art program, Contact us in Ochlocknee, Georgia.

About Us

Friends and Stars, Inc. is a vital 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which provides unique, pioneering arts programming expressly designed to be all inclusive of special needs populations. The base of corporate operation in located in Ochlocknee, Georgia and has served an adult (18 and above) special needs target audience in Broward County, Florida since August of 2011. The agency’s programming supports the well-being of both the special needs community and their caregivers. In its nine-year history, a wide variety of creative opportunities for artistic expression have been provided in a Saturday afternoon Club offered in our Florida location, staffed by professional artists and skillful volunteers. The teaching team focuses on encouraging interpersonal and inner personal growth as integral to the successful delivery of services. Thus, in addition to the creation of exceptional art that has been displayed in galleries and public places, profound behavioral, mental and social improvements have been observed among the many loyal and ever-increasing number of attendees. Additionally, the program successfully provides much needed respite for parents and caregivers by enabling them to have a break from hands-on care giving so they can focus on everyday business and self care.

Mission Statement

To enhance the well-being of special needs adults and their caregivers. Services pioneered through innovative programming include: providing an enriching arts, entertainment and community relationship building programs expressly designed to support people of all disabilities, to experience an atmosphere of dignity, respect, friendship and caring, as well as providing respite, educational programs and tools to support enhanced self-care for caregivers.

History of the organization

The organization began in 2010 when 3 friends (Julieta Conde Canal, Olga Avallone & Dixie Lee Hedrington) wanted to give back to their community while doing something they were all passionate about… ART. An Art Program was created with an emphasis on true creativity and a bigger desire to work with individuals who were the least able to obtain art classes, or pay for it. The friends met and chose their target population which was originally for Down Syndrome individuals, then expanded to Autism and finally incorporated those with Intellectual,
Learning and Developmental Disabilities. They named the group the Circle of Friends (because of their friendship) and worked on a slogan. Several variations were discussed and they finally settled on “Where Everyone Is A Star”. The thinking behind “being a Star” was agreed to, as it was their focus to make their clients feel like movie stars every time they come through the doors of the Saturday Activity Club and weekly art sessions. So often the talents of special needs adults are overlooked. So the friends wanted to make as a part of their Customer Service, the special treatment of the attendees (remember, we don’t actually have clients or participants; we have STARS).

In 2012, the friends knew they needed to grow the organization, and with a strong desire to provide more services along with a robust art experience to their Stars, they incorporated and became Friends & Stars, Inc. In March of 2013, the organization obtained its 501(c)(3) non-profit status, and along with a host of volunteer staff are now raising funds to expand the pilot program (Saturday Activity Club) from a two hour session to every Saturday 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm. In addition, individuals with special needs from the Broward county school system, as well as children who are home-schooled, participate in weekly classes.