Inclusive Connections: TD Bank and the Power of Friendship in the ASD Community

For many individuals living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the path to making new friends is often fraught with challenges and false starts. Imagine a young person, brimming with curiosity and a thirst for companionship, navigating a world where social cues are like cryptic messages, waiting to be deciphered. Every interaction is an adventure, a delicate dance of understanding and misinterpretation.

According to a 2019 study from the Public Health Agency of Canada, an eye-opening 48.2% of youth aged 12-17 with ASD found making friends challenging, significantly greater than those without ASD. Difficulties with social communication, understanding social cues, and navigating complex social interactions can all make it hard to connect with others on a deep and meaningful level, something so many of us frequently take for granted.

So how do we go about changing this?

Like anything in life, all it takes are some key relationships or moments in time to help make a change. For our Jake’s House family, one of those moments was thanks to TD Bank and their Connected Communities Grant funding in 2023-2024. Because of TD Bank and their generous contribution of a $50,000 grant for our Legends Mentoring Program (LMP) active workshops, our community has been able to form friendships and foster connections like never before.

Here’s how.

Thank You, TD Bank.

TD Bank’s Connected Communities Grant is an initiative aimed at supporting programs that enable groups vulnerable to social isolation to build meaningful connections in their community. 

This initiative aligns perfectly with our Legends Mentoring Program, which offers youth and adults with autism the opportunity to participate in themed group workshops such as technical coding, arts & crafts, culinary arts, science, and athletics. Started in 2017 with consistent and generous funding from the Government of Ontario, these workshops provide opportunities for socialization, skill-based learning, and friendship building, all under the guidance of caring mentors. Participants and mentors engage weekly for a minimum of ten hours per three-month session, fostering trust, friendship, and a consistent routine. Talk about a match made in heaven.

Prior to receiving the grant, Jake’s House provided active virtual workshops in Dance and Boxing, engaging community members online from across the province in learning healthy movement within a fun and energetic environment. 

Now, with the support of TD Bank, Jake’s House has expanded our current programming to offer In-Person Active Workshops in numerous cities across Ontario such as Mini-Golf, Dance, Ping-Pong, Martial Arts, Bowling, Hockey and more, providing our community with even greater opportunities to gain confidence and make new friends. To date, nearly 300 participants have taken part in these workshops, developing improved coordination, healthy life-style choices, and sport-specific skills. The echoes of laughter and the shared triumphs within these workshops highlight the profound impact of fostering genuine connections within our community. 

Through this grant, Jake’s House has been able to achieve our program’s goals of: 

  • Increasing community engagement and sense of inclusion.
  • Helping develop social skills and improving social experiences.
  • Improving relationships with peers. 

Through our Active In-Person Workshops we: 

  • Provide the opportunity to participate in active sports which have positive effects for individuals with ASD, leading to an improvement of general mental health and well-being  
  • Provide a safe physical and psychological space, and offer a place of belonging  
  • Give families respite and a peace of mind  
  • Engage volunteer mentors and Instructors as they empower and mentor our community 

Take a look at some of our amazing active workshops from 2023-2024.

SOCCER WORKSHOP - March 27th, 2023, Mississauga, ON

Participants had an amazing time during our action-packed Soccer workshop! They practiced passing skills along with perfecting their strong, powerful shots on net. The group finished the workshop with a fun scrimmage drill as well!

PING PONG WORKSHOP - August 26th, 2023, North York, ON

Our Ping Pong workshop in August was a smashing success! This session wasn’t just about improving skills or wins and losses; it was a chance to make new friends and create lasting memories in a supportive environment.

JUDO WORKSHOP - December 2nd, 2023, Lucan, ON

In Lucan, our esteemed Special Guests from the Western University Judo Club dazzled our Jake’s House community with their incredible Judo expertise, showcasing an array of jaw-dropping moves and skills! This dynamic session left everyone inspired and energized.

BOWLING WORKSHOP - March 8th, 2024, London, ON

We’re thrilled to share the fantastic experience we had at our bowling workshop in London! This incredible event brought together individuals of all ages and abilities for a day of fun, friendship, and bowling excitement. We’re grateful to everyone who joined us and contributed to an amazing team environment.

Looking Ahead:

Baseball Workshop: Saturday, April 20th, 2024 (12:00 pm-2:00 pm) 

Join us for a complimentary pilot baseball workshop hosted at Upper Deck Baseball Academy. 


On behalf of Jake’s House and the communities we serve, we extend our sincerest thanks to TD Bank for their remarkable commitment to making a meaningful difference in our community. The positive impact of TD Bank’s grant extends far beyond financial assistance; it has helped transform lives, strengthen bonds, and empower individuals within the ASD community to thrive and flourish in friendships that may not have been possible before. 

LMP Testimonials – From Parents and Participants

“The Jake’s House staff are so involved, even the parents get to have fun!”

“Jayesh liked the environment and was happy during the sessions.”

“The Jake’s House team are very friendly and patient. My daughter was able to learn how to follow instructions, participate, and make new friends.” 

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