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Friendship in Action is a non-profit organization that creates safe places for young people to identify their stress and to support each other with compassion.

Friendship in Action, School of Practical Philosophy, 29 Madison Ave., Toronto, ON, M5R 2S2   (647) 239-2740

Registered Canadian Charity, No. 837700939RR0001 | Friendship in Action © 2017 | All Rights Reserved

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.


Our Vision

“A world where every young person is emotionally and socially intelligent.”


Our Mission

“We create a safe place for young people to identify their stress and to support

each other with compassion.”

Our Shared Values​






​​Our Strategic Priorities

Program development

Partner development




Erin MacKay - Chair/Treasurer

Leah Switzer - Vice-Chair

Tiffaney Klein - Secretary

​Sabina Michael 

Jackie Monahan

Susan Perren

Justine Ridgely

Amna Sayed

Catherine O'Shea



Gerry Mabin

Gerry Mabin is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of early childhood education and has a wealth of experience in teacher training and classroom teaching. She received her training in the UK and taught there before coming to the Institute of Child Study (ICS) in Toronto, where she taught and became principal. In 1980 she founded The Mabin School and in 1998 moved on to help open the Children’s Own Museum, where she was Education Director for three years. In 2001 she co-founded Words in Motion and first conceived of the Friendship in Action program, which she incorporated into a separate registered charity in 2013.

Claire Barron

Claire Barron earned her teaching degree at Middlebury College in Vermont and her M.Ed in curriculum from OISE. Throughout Claire’s teaching career, her focus has always been in helping students develop their character and to provide them with the tools they need to navigate their emotional world. She spent the majority of her career at Upper Canada College Preparatory School and wrote the curriculum for their Life Skills Programme. She is a firm believer in support groups for students, and initiated and ran support groups for students at UCC. In addition, she has been a Department Head of both English and Guidance and was Director of a Middle School.

Fatemeh Alhosseini

Fatemeh Alhosseini is a PhD. student in the Developmental Psychology and Education (DPE) program at University of Toronto, OISE. She received her MA in the same program and her BA in Clinical Psychology. She loves working with children and conducting practical research contributing to their resilience and wellness. As an intern at Frienship in Action, she is striving to understand the sources of stress in refugee children’s lives in Canada and develop a resilience-based, stress-reduction program for refugee children.

Charlotte Ashe

Charlotte Ashe graduated from the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, after completing her BA (Hons) in History at Queen’s University. Charlotte has a passion for social-emotional learning, and completed her thesis on how teachers use mindfulness in the classroom to support students’ mental health, executive functioning, and academic success. She also has experience directing outdoor summer camps.

Simon Bugiardini

Simon Bugiardini is a recent graduate of the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. As the bookkeeper and administrative assistant for Friendship In Action, Simon uses his skills to make sure that the organization's internal operations are running smoothly and efficiently. Simon has a passion for working in the non-profit sector and believes that staying true to the organization’s mission is the top priority.

Anne Cassidy

Anne Cassidy is an experienced classroom teacher who spent 25 years at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Child Study as teacher and mentor. From 2005-2010, she worked at Gambia College in West Africa, developing a literacy programme for the Ministry of Education and teaching over two thousand student teachers. She has been a member of the FIA team since her return.

Geoff Ernst

Geoff Ernst is currently a student at University of Toronto taking his masters in education in curriculum studies and teacher development. Geoff did his undergrad at University Of Windsor and got his honours in Drama in Education And Community. Geoff has a big passion for education, and community building, and how educators can help build communities better locally and globally. 

Esther Fine

Esther Fine is a Professor Emerita/Senior Scholar in the Faculty of Education at York University in Toronto. She has taught students from junior kindergarten through graduate school. Esther graduated from the University of Michigan. She received a doctorate from OISE (University of Toronto) in 1990 and MFA in creative writing from Vermont College in 2003. Awards include a Hopwood for fiction and an America Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Journalism.

Doug Grundman

Doug’s passion is community outreach. As a retired elementary teacher, Doug has turned his attention to after school programs that include: Regent Park Homework Club and Leave Out Violence, an organization committed to youth at risk.  As Lead Facilitator for The Toronto Writers Collective, Doug is part of a team that provides creative writing sessions throughout the marginalized communities of the GTA. Doug feels honoured to connect with others and to be part of programs that enrich and empower.

Cam Kilgour

Cam Kilgour has these degrees: B.A. (Trent), a B.Ed (U of T, LL.B (Osgoode Hall). After practising immigration law briefly, he taught for two years in Bhutan and then, in secondary schools in Toronto, for 25 years, including two exchange years in Melbourne, Australia. He continues to do literacy assessment work for the TDSB. Having taught many immigrant students, he has a special interest in the development of communication skills and emotional intelligence. He recently returned from a volunteering assignment at a buddhist monastery school in Mandalay, Myanmar where he learned the importance of compassion and gratitude in the learning environment.

Sadaf Pour Iliaei

Sadaf Pour Iliaei is a PhD student in Developmental Psychology and Education (DPE) program at University of Toronto, OISE. Sadaf got an MA in Developmental Psychology from Concordia University, Montreal, where she worked with infants and examined their cognitive functions. She also has an MSc in Cognitive Psychology from the Institute for Cognitive Science Studies. Sadaf is currently involved in a SHHRC-founded project on studying wisdom, and is interested in incorporating wise life techniques such as emotion regulation and mindfulness training in the educational setting.

Sue-Ann Moher

Sue-Ann has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s of Education from Boston University. She taught in The Independent School System over the course of 20 years as a form teacher and a French teacher at Havergal College, Upper Canada College and The Sterling Hall School. After working in the financial industry as an Associate Investment Advisor for the last five years, she is glad to be reconnecting with students to help them through the FIA mission of, ‘creating a safe place where young people can identify their stress and to support each other with compassion.’

Noni Rabinovitch

Noni acquired her B.A. and then her M.B.A. at McGill university and built a career over the next 20 years in the field of Marketing and Advertising. She worked for major corporations such as General Foods and international ad agencies such as Young and Rubicam, Saatchi and Saatchi and Bates Worldwide. 

In 2006 Noni went back to school and acquired a teaching degree from OISE given her keen interest in childhood learning and development. She then obtained a Life Coaching Certificate to further help the emotional development and well-being of youth and adult women. She now works as both a substitute elementary teacher and a life coach.

Leslie Richardson

Leslie Richardson is a deeply empathetic teacher with a passion for inner-city education. With great care and enthusiasm, she works creatively to develop community by believing in, supporting, and engaging each and every child. Leslie is a graduate of the Concurrent Education Program at Queens University and has her Special Education Specialist, Guidance Part 1, and an Additional Basic Qualification in Intermediate Drama.

Aldonna Stremecki

Aldonna Stremecki is a former Head of Drama at Crescent School in Toronto, where she taught grades 5 through 13 and directed theatre productions every year. While at Crescent, Aldonna collaborated on the school’s outreach initiative, bringing art and literacy programs to young people in South Africa. She uses her extensive experience in crafting role-play, literature and co-operative games that explore and develop self-awareness and empathy.

Sandra Webster

Sandra Webster is a retired teacher with the Toronto District School Board and has more than 25 years of experience in both the elementary and middle school system. Sandra was educated in England at the University of Sussex, and taught in both the United Kingdom and her native Barbados before moving permanently to Canada. With an expertise in special education, Sandra has worked with students of a wide range of abilities and backgrounds. She harbours a strong belief that every child is a unique individual with their own strengths and the ability to contribute meaningfully to society.

Deni Wise

Deni Wise has been a teacher for the Toronto District School Board for 31 years. Holding specialist certificates in both Drama and Special Education/Gifted, Deni has used her skills to reach her students in primary, junior and intermediate levels. With a solid belief in instructing the “whole child,” her teaching exemplifies a dedication to working with the social, emotional, and intellectual needs of children, especially in the areas of empathy and self-esteem. Since retirement, Deni has completed advanced training in yoga and continues to be interested in mindfulness work.

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