What is SibStrong?
SibStrong is a new organization seeking to connect and provide support and resources for siblings of people with disabilities and their families.
As part of SibStrong’s focus on non-adult siblings of people with disabilities, we are looking to engage high school siblings in building communities of support as well as serve as mentors to younger siblings of people with disabilities.
The high school sibling program will have three main elements.
The primary element of the program will be to bring siblings of people with disabilities together. As a siblings-only group, high-school siblings will have the opportunity to connect with and get to know peers with similar experiences. This group will allow teens to:
- Meet other siblings of people with disabilities
- Develop a community of other teens who share similar experiences
- Provide a safe space for siblings to talk about their experiences—the good and the bad
- Celebrate the unique role they play in the lives of their brothers and sisters
- Better understand disability and ways to talk about it to friends and peers
- Learn strategies for dealing with challenging situations
Younger Sibling Group Facilitation
SibStrong high school program participants will have the opportunity to help facilitate group sessions of SibStrong elementary school programs. Alongside a counselor, these siblings will be able to provide perspective and mentorship for younger people who have a sibling with a disability. This laddered mentorship is a crucial part of the SibStrong model and participating high school’s will be matched with local participating SibStrong elementary schools.
SibStrong is a “By Siblings for Siblings” organization. Recognizing teenagers growing independence, SibStrong will empower high school program participants to develop initiatives of their choosing to further inclusion and engage them with the larger disability community.
Along with supporting program participants, SibStrong will offer opportunities for parents to access sibling-related resources.
Similar to offerings for younger siblings, social activities for this age would involve monthly or bi-monthly gatherings. These will be held on-campus as after school activities or at off-site locations (e.g. trips to sporting events, bowling outings, overnight trips, etc.) These gatherings will offer siblings additional opportunities to meet and socialize with other siblings of people with ASD/DD. Social and weekend gatherings will also be used as an
opportunity to engage the entire family.
Younger Sibling Facilitation
Siblings in this age group would have the opportunity to pair with older siblings for one-on-one mentoring opportunities. The mentorship program would be similar to existing programs (e.g. Best Buddies).