WOLF + FRIENDS is launching a modern social networking + content app for families raising children with special needs such as ADHD, learning differences, developmental delays, anxiety, giftedness, sensory processing issues, behavioral challenges, down syndrome, and autism.
Inspired by our community of engaged + passionate parents, who often feel isolated because their child's development is not "typical," we discovered the best way to support them, was to create an app specifically designed for them.
When the WOLF + FRIENDS app launches it will help millions of families make meaningful connections, find resources, schedule playdates, get advice from childhood development specialists, and shop for imaginative products that will support their child's unique needs.
12.3 million or 1 in 6 children aged 3 through 17 years have a one or more developmental disabilities according to the CDC.
12.3 million or 1 in 6 children under the age of 18 experience sensory processing symptoms that could affect their everyday lives.
1 in 7 children aged 2 to 8 years has a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder according to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health.
1 in 10 school-aged children in the United States has received an ADHD diagnosis according to the CDC.
6.7 million children or 1 in 45 children, ages, 3-17, have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder According to the National Health Interview Survey.
1 in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down Syndrome each year, according to the CDC
What Advice Would You Give To A (New) Special Needs Mom?
Carissa Tozzi: I've spent my career in editorial development, celebrity casting, and public relations, working with major media outlets such as Refinery29, Seventeen magazine, Youtube and MTV, and being obsessed with my job. Then I had my son, Wolf, and suddenly my life refocused on all things, baby and child. I immersed myself in the world of toys, décor, and fashion for kids. But when Wolf was in preschool, his teachers suggested he may have some sensory issues and I was promptly handed a folder of catalogs for some “stuff” that might help. I had no understanding of what sensory issues were, let alone what he needed. After extensive research, I came to realize that many of the toys and therapeutic tools that were suggested, while available on terrifying clinical websites, were also on Amazon and design-inspired kids shops. So I started curating these items on Pinterest and Instagram in a way that felt friendly and safe, while also providing easily readable insight on how to use them at home. Then I approached Gena, whom I've known since elementary school, about my idea to create an online shopping platform that was informative, inclusive + fun.
Gena Mann: I spent 10 years working as a Photo Editor in New York City for Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine, and CosmoGIRL! but I left magazines shortly after my second son was born and my first child was diagnosed with autism at 2-years-old. I moved to Weston, Connecticut to create a therapeutic program for my son. Carissa came to me shortly after I’d had my 4th child (two girls followed the boys!). I was a bit overwhelmed in my new role as a mom of four. But when she showed me an early prototype of Wolf + Friends that she’d designed herself, I was immediately determined to become involved. It can be a lonely, terrifying, and costly experience trying to navigate everything that comes with having special needs children and I knew there had to be moms like me who felt the same way. Ever since we’ve been building and hustling.
Paul Caine, Founder PC Ventures, is a results-driven C-suite executive with extensive track record building, operating, transforming and investing in small and large-scale public and private businesses to maximize profit.
Susan Kaplow is a digital editorial executive with more than 17 years experience developing large content organizations and multi-platform programming for media companies including SheKnows Media, Refinery 29, The Huffington Post, Conde Nast, and Alloy Media and Marketing.
Alyse Kelly is an accomplished credit analyst with more than 15 years of experience analyzing the business and financial profiles of companies within the Media & Entertainment industries.
OUR CHILD DEVELOPMENT SPECIALISTS
Tara Covais Varsov is a psychotherapist in private practice and has spent much of her 20-year career helping the most vulnerable children and families.Tara studied psychoanalysis and psychotherapy at the Institute for Child, Adolescent and Family Studies, holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from the University of Rhode Island.
Alescia Ford-Lanza MS OTR/L, ATP is an Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Practitioner with 15 years of pediatric experience. Alescia founded Adapt & Learn, LLC. on the mission that children of all abilities can play, learn, adapt, and develop with the right therapeutic and educational supports.
Courtney T. Gessin, MS, CCC-SLP, has been working with NYC children and families for the last 10 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from New York University and her Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Hunter College, The City University of New York.
Dr. Gwen Lopez-Cohen is a board certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in Westport, Connecticut with clinical expertise in anxiety, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. Prior to her career in medicine, Dr. Lopez-Cohen was an early childhood educator.
WHAT WE'VE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR
wolfandfriends.com launched in April 2016 and have had over 100,000+visitors to our site and we've grown 250+% year over year.
We've been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Forbes, Red Tricycle, She Knows, Stylus + Swaay.
We've collaborated with brands and media companies such as NBCUniversal, Procter & Gamble, Seedling, Fun and Function and Tommy Hilfiger.
+ We designed the Wolf + Friends app!
WHY WE CHOSE IFUNDWOMEN
The power of WOLF + FRIENDS app will come from the mama warriors in our community. That is why we decided to use iFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform designed for female entrepreneurs. Funds secured through our crowdfunding campaign will be used to help launch our app and help millions of families get the support they need.
Carissa + Gena