Friendship In Action’s Executive Director, Gerry Mabin, has always believed in prioritizing children’s social and emotional well-being. While working at Words In Motion, an arts education organization co-founded by Mabin and Artistic Director Kathleen Payne, Mabin created programs that helped students develop skills critical to nurturing their emotional intelligence. As the demand from teachers for these programs increased, Mabin decided to form a separate organization to fulfill this need. In 2013, she incorporated Friendship In Action and registered it as a Canadian children’s charity.
Over the years, as the number of young people experiencing stress and anxiety increased, Friendship In Action adapted its services to help students learn skills for managing the social, family, and academic stressors in their lives. In 2016, Mabin and Team Leader Claire Barron developed a new program, Kids Helping Kids Manage Stress, which helps students recognize and cope with stress while developing friendship, trust and empathy among their peers. This program is now running successfully in schools throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have expanded programming to include groups for adults as well as youth. FIA believes in the ethos that 'it takes a village to raise a child' by recognizing those who are responsible for the children we usually work with. Supporting parents and caregivers as they navigate the realities and emotions of the COVID-19 pandemic, will ultimately support the children.
"To provide an opportunity for youth, their parents, caregivers, and teachers to
share with each other bravely in a positive safe environment."
“To create a safe place for young people and their caregivers to identify and share
their stress in order to support each other compassionately.”
Our Shared Values
Our Strategic Priorities
Erin MacKay - Chair/Treasurer
Leah Switzer - Vice-Chair
Tiffaney Klein - Secretary
The following individuals have graciously provided valuable advice to the Friendship In Action organization:
Barbara Adams, former Principal, John D Parker Junior School. Past Director of FIA.
Ann Armstrong, Director, Social Enterprise Initiative, Rotman School of Management. Past FIA Director.
Ellie Avishai, Director, I-Think Initiative, Rotman School of Management.
Jo-Anne Boluk, Parent. Past Director of FIA.
Cristina Burgess, President, Augustina Boutique and Little Auggie. Past Director of FIA.
Dr. Jean Clinton, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience at McMaster University, division of Child Psychiatry.
Dr.Howard Cole, Child Psychiatrist.
Dr. Jennifer Connolly, Director, LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution.
George Dembroski, Corporate Director.
Ruth Ehrlich, Education Consultant.
Sue Griggs, Executive Coach, Educator, Psychotherapist.
Lisa Haberman, B.A., B.Ed., M.A., University of Toronto Schools.
Bonnie Hillman, President, A&C, Toronto. Past Director of FIA.
Victoria Jackman, Executive Director Hal Jackman Foundation.
Mary Ladky, Executive Director, The Children’s Book Bank.
Roger Martin, Academic Director, Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management.
Donna Slaight, Slaight Family Foundation.
Nancy Steinhauer, Principal, The Mabin School, consultant to Ministry of Education on student achievement.
Paul Tough, Writer, Journalist, Speaker.
Heather Weir, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Past Director of FIA.
Janet Young, Parent. Past Director of FIA.