My name is Walter Suskind, the founder of SibStrong. As you consider whether this may be a worthwhile program for your students to be involved with I wanted to provide you with information on the high school program, SibStrong in general and a bit about why I decided to start SibStrong.
Like all elements of the SibStrong, the primary goal of the high-school program is to bring siblings of people with disabilities together in one place to form community, share experiences and gain resources and information to empower them in their role as siblings.
The primary components of SibStrong High-School program will be:
- Sibling Sessions: Occurring bi-weekly (or at a cadence decided on by the school and students), these sessions would provide a venue for siblings to share experiences, access sibling-related resources, develop disability awareness initiatives as a group to further inclusion both at school and in their community, and have chances to interact with older sibling volunteers. This opportunity to interact with older siblings is a key element to SibStrong’s “Laddered Mentorship” approach, allowing siblings to provide perspective and guidance to younger siblings.
- Mentoring: As part of Laddered Mentorship, high school siblings will have the opportunity to give back to the sibling community as facilitators in elementary school SibStrong sessions. Pairing with a local participating elementary school, high-school siblings will assist elementary school counselors during SibStrong elementary school sessions. For students volunteering as facilitators, SibStrong will provide training and support for this role.
- Social Activities: Social activities for teens 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, community service projects, bowling outings, etc.) These gatherings will offer siblings additional opportunities to meet and socialize with other siblings. Social and weekend gatherings will also be used as an opportunity to engage the entire family.
SibStrong aims to offer education, resources and networks that siblings of individuals living with disabilities can begin utilizing from a young age and continue to connect with at every phase of life. SibStrong seeks to be an engaging and modern sibling network that enables siblings of all ages to receive the support and resources they need to empower them in their unique role as a sibling.