I agree with MidwestMom about going to an already established group, but if you live in a place like I do with limited resources, I have a couple suggestions for you.
Basically, treat this as if you are starting a new business except remember you won't be making any money from it and you need to keep expenses down. If you and your friends want to do this, I'd suggest a group discussion on the expected costs needed to get this rolling and split it up.
Start with RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH!
- I suggest not using any private residence.
- Check with local churches, libraries, etc. for availability and cost. Take into consideration:
- Cost of the location
- Do you need to provide chairs or does the location provide them, how many chairs are available, do you need to set up / take down tables, chairs, etc.
- Sometimes there's a key deposit if you decide to use your own church. The church I used to work at charged a $100.00 refundable deposit for a key to non-church members and a $50.00 charge to church members.
- Is there a cleaning fee if something is spilled?
- Supplies for Meetings:
- Decide if you'll have refreshments (eventually, it could become like a social - everyone bring something to share, but in the beginning all of the cost will be on the person/persons starting the group),
- Highly recommend supplying tissues
- Estimate the cost of supplies to include:
- paper for flyers,
- business cards,
- your own printer ink vs
- everything printed at an office supply store
- Estimate need for the group:
- I would recommend talking to school principals, school psychologists, Special Education teachers, pastors in local churches, pediatrician offices, etc. Do they personally know of people who would benefit from such a group?
- Would they be willing to post flyers or pass out business cards to people who have in the past or will in the future express a desire to join such a group?
If your research comes back positive and you decide to continue...
First start the group with you and your friends. Name the group and establish a set date, time, and location to meet.
Then make flyers with the name and purpose of the group, date, time, and location of the meetings. You will also need to provide a phone number and possibly an email address (you might want to make a support group specific email address that can be accessed by you and which ever of your friends wants to help lead / moderate the group).
To get the word out, post flyers with each of the people you spoke to during the research phase. People like school psychologists and pediatricians might also like to have business cards to pass out because they are the people working with parents immediately following diagnosis. You might even get pastors to announce the new group in services or the church secretary might advertise it in the church bulletin. Also, post flyers at laundry mats, grocery store bulletin boards, hardware stores...any place with a public announcement bulletin board, including where you and/or your friends work. You might also make business cards so you and your friends can carry them around and pass them out during your daily activities if you meet someone who needs similar support.
There is a community group where I live. They have outings on the weekends where the kids are invited also, they have jumpy castles and picnics, etc. so the kids and parents can come together. It's nice because the kids also get to meet others they recognize at school and know they can hang out with them instead of feeling left out. However, this group is pretty big now and one of the leaders is very good at community organizing so she knows how to get grants from various sources and donations from local businesses. That's way down the line for you, but keep it in mind.