For the final blog of 2019, JMF’s Director of Programs, Julie Friedman, has written an end-of-year letter for our followers and supporters:

Dear JMF partners, donors, families, and volunteers,

This was an incredible year for the Joseph Maley Foundation’s programs! With the generous support of our wonderful donors, volunteers, and supporters, we have served more than 30,000 children this year, which makes 2019 our most impactful year to date!  As we look forward at 2020, I would like to highlight the achievements and remarkable impact of our programs in 2019.


disABILITY Awareness

disABILITY Awareness continues to teach children about awareness and acceptance of all as we increase the number of schools we serve. In 2019, we added programs and partnerships in both private schools and several public school districts, including Westfield, IPS, Fishers, and Washington Township. The disABILITY Awareness team is running programming every week of the school year. We are keeping our staff busy!

One major highlight of 2019 is the growth of JMF programming in Westfield Washington schools. This school district has been committed to reaching as many children as possible. In addition to expanding disABILITY Awareness in all six of their elementary schools, Westfield added programming in their Intermediate school and developed two Joseph Maley Friends puppet troupes. This means we are serving ALL children in Westfield schools, grades Pre-K through 6th, and continuing to grow the impact on a number of middle school students. We hope to implement more programs in Westfield Middle School in 2020. Way to go Westfield!

First-grade students learning about service and therapy dogs during disABILITY Awareness programming at their school.


Joseph Maley Friends

Joseph Maley Friends has grown in 2019 to having ten troupes throughout central Indiana. These troupes, comprised of eighth-grade students, have learned both disABILITY Awareness and HOPE skits to teach their younger peers through our model of “kids teaching kids”. Each troupe performs 6-7 times throughout the school year. In addition to school performances, the troupes perform skits for special events such as Eli Lilly’s “Take Your Child to Work Day”, neighborhood awareness events, daycare and preschool performances, and at summer camps like those held by Brooke’s Place and the Boner Center.  

One highlight of 2019 is the addition of an IPS puppet troupe. This troupe will implement programming in 2020 throughout the IPS school system.  

Students asking questions about a Joseph Maley Friends puppet performance on Down syndrome.



HOPE continues to grow and flourish within schools. In fall of 2019, JMF launched new curriculum, and has been incredibly pleased with the response from our program partners. Students are engaged in programming throughout the school year that focus on four pillars of health – mental, social, emotional, and physical.  

Our HOPE program reaches students from Pre-K through 12th grade. JMF has held “speaker nights” for both parents and teachers with engaging professionals from around the city discussing topics such as social media safety, stress and anxiety, and overall mental health.  

Middle school students participating in HOPE’s We Step Up initiative, which teaches students them how to be “up-standers” for others.


Following a HOPE puppet performance, first graders were asked to explain what it means to be mentally healthy and physically healthy. A first grader responded: “Physical health means taking care of your body, and mental health means taking care of your mind.” 

Nested within HOPE is JMF’s Service Day initiative, which organizes for students to spend a day volunteering with other nonprofits throughout Indianapolis. In 2019, JMF helped place approximately 1,000 students to serve in over 10 central Indiana non-profits. 

Middle school students participating in JMF Service Day at Down Syndrome Indiana (DSI).


We are excited to continue growing HOPE in 2020, and spreading mental health awareness through our program partners.


Joseph Maley Fitness

In 2019, Joseph Maley Fitness added a new initiative: tri2gether. tri2gether pairs Joseph Maley Fitness athletes with a crew of experience triathletes, who compete together in sprint triathlons across central Indiana. tri2gether teams participated in the Eagle Creek Sprint Tri and Tuxedo Brothers Tri-Indy this summer. It was an incredible experience for both the Joseph Maley Fitness athletes, and our volunteer crew members. We hope to continue expanding tri2gether in 2020!

A group photo of our tri2gether teams post-race at the Eagle Creek Sprint Tri in June 2019.

2019 was also the second year for our Joseph Maley Fitness Summer Camp, where athletes of ALL abilities participate in a week-long day camp. Athletes played soccer, basketball, football, and swimming alongside their volunteer mentor! Dates, times, and registration information for the 2020 Joseph Maley Fitness Summer Camp will be available soon.

Joseph Maley Fitness athletes and mentors play football together at the 2019 Joseph Maley Fitness Summer Camp.


Swimming continues to be our most popular Joseph Maley Fitness sport. We have added even more pools across central Indiana. Our athletes love to swim and love warm water! In 2019 our need for volunteers has increased, and our goal for 2020 is to build up our database of mentors. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer to be a Joseph Maley Fitness mentor, email Haley Grooms at

Soccer, run2gether, T-Ball, Yoga, Basketball, Cheerleading, Football and Rowing were all a part of our 2019 adaptive sports line-up. We look forward to seeing all of our amazing athletes and volunteers again in 2020!


Joseph Maley Family Support 

In 2019, Joseph Maley Family Support helped 83 children and their families navigate their Individualized Education Program (IEP), as well as providing sibling workshops and camps for children who have a sibling with a disability.

The 2019 Sibs Summer Camp participants and camp counselors.


Additionally, Joseph Maley Family Support formed a new, exciting partnership with Eskenazi Health Medical-Legal Partnership, and paired pro-bono attorneys with Eskenazi families.

Through our new partnership with Eskenazi Health, Joseph Maley Family Support received a referral for a child who was only spending half of the school day in the classroom. Through the support of a volunteer advocate, this child is now attending school full-day, accessing his right to a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE), and his Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), joining his same-aged peers for P.E., and soon to be in science and history classes as well. Additionally, this child now receives double the speech and language services, and is being evaluated for an appropriate communication device and strategy.  

What an exciting year! I would like to thank our incredible staff. Many late nights and early mornings go into making these programs successful. Their creativity, tenacity, and dedication to our mission of serving children of ALL abilities is the backbone of our programs.  Next time you see the JMF van driving in the city, give a friendly honk to our hard-working staff members! 

To our donors and volunteers – we love you! We could not do what we do without your support. Thank you for your time, talent, and treasure in 2019. We look forward to doing great things alongside you in the next year.

Many Blessings to You in 2020!

Julie Friedman
Director of Programs