This past year, CARD-USF
began offering Sibshops in different locations within our catchment
area. The Sibshops were facilitated by CARD-USF staff members
Serena Samar, Cindy Valdes, Michelle White and Cristina Munoz.
Sibshops are designed for siblings who have brothers and sisters
with a disability or a special need. They address both the social
and emotional needs of siblings. As with parent support groups,
Sibshops provide an opportunity to find common ground and foster
their own peer support network. Sibshops use both information
and discussion activities intermingled with high-energy recreational
Most siblings are doing
very well with their unique situation and a Sibshop program is
not a remedy but a place where siblings can have fun, relax and
just be a kid! Believe it or not, siblings need time to socialize
and be with other peers besides their brother or sister. As one
adult sibling facilitator reported, “I love my sister very
much but just to have someone ask what I like about having a sister
with a disability deeply affected me on an emotional level. No
one had ever asked what I liked about her!” No matter the
age, Sibshops make a huge difference in a sibling’s life!
Brothers and sisters
often have the longest relationship with the person with disabilities,
even longer than the parents. Having a Sibshop program can give
immediate results and the long-term effects will be immeasurable.
Improving a sibling’s coping level, expanding their knowledge
base, and talking with other children can help the entire family
usually facilitated by a team of professionals with a wide range of
experiences (social workers, teachers, OT’s, psychologists, nurses,
professors and adult siblings). The facilitators must have some prior
working knowledge of disabilities or illness, depending on the sibling
population that is targeted.
must have a good sense of humor and find being with children an enjoyable
experience. Ultimately, the facilitator should respect the participant’s
input on whatever topic they are commenting on. This is their time and
place to make their peace and be themselves.
A great resource for starting a sibshop program: Sibshops Workshops
for Siblings of Children with Special Needs, visit: