OSWEGO, NY – National Sibling Day is an annual celebration that takes place on April 10 to honor the special bond that is shared between siblings.
Brothers and sisters are, despite some highs and lows, the people you have the longest lasting relationship with. For children who have a sibling with a disability, the dynamic of the relationship can raise certain challenges.
“Several years ago ARISE decided not only to offer services for children with disabilities but also to their siblings who often deal with feelings of resentment for not getting enough attention, embarrassment, guilt and the need for information. Just knowing that there are other children their age who have similar experiences can make a huge difference,” explained Sabine Ingerson, director of the Oswego County offices.
In order to provide a safe space for children to receive support and express their feelings about having a sibling with a disability, ARISE hosts a local Sibshops group for third to eighth grade students funded by OPWDD Family Support Services.
Through a mixture of discussion activities, lively games, and special visitors, Sibshops provides an opportunity for the children to have fun, share their experiences, and provide peer supports to each other.
“Sibshops has been such a blessing for our daughter! She looks forward to it each and every quarter and it means so much to her that she has given up everything from birthday parties to a day at the salon for mani/pedis to be with her friends on Sibshops days. There she learns she’s not alone in some of the challenges she faces at home and at school with her brother (and yes, her parents) and has made some life-long friendships from all over the county that she remains in contact with between meetings. I love the fact that, for a change, it’s all about her and she gets to have all the fun! She deserves this special time. She’s such a sweet and supportive big sister. I’m grateful every day for the services ARISE provides our community and the forward thinking of its staff to create such a needed program.” said Tammy Elowsky.
At a recent Sibshops meeting, the kids were asked to share what they would like others to know about what it’s like to have a sibling with a disability.
The children expressed that their brother or sister’s behavior or medical issues may make it difficult to go places. They feel like sometimes their sibling receives preferential treatment.
The kids also emphasized their role in advocating for their sibling and echoed the need to increase disability awareness in the community. And, above all else, they all shared how much they love their sibling.
If you would like to learn more about ARISE’s Sibshops group, contact Ingerson at 342-4088 ext. 210 or [email protected]
ARISE is a non-profit Independent Living Center run by and for people with disabilities. The organization has been providing advocacy and services since 1979, and each year ARISE works with approximately 4,000 people of all ages who have all types of disabilities. ARISE has offices in Onondaga, Oswego, and Madison counties and operates ARISE at the Farm, a 77-acre recreational facility in Chittenango and ARISE & Ski at Toggenburg Winter Sports Center in Fabius.