You’ve heard me say it over and over…siblings have the longest and one of the most significant bonds in the life of a person with disabilities. That’s why staff, volunteers, and participants with WisconSibs have such passion to support siblings from childhood through adulthood and why we CELEBRATE the unique role of siblings, especially sisters (by the way Celebrate Sisterhood will be October 30, 2018).
That passion inspires us to not only recognize the millions of siblings of people with developmental disabilities, but also people with emotional and mental health concerns. An estimated 8.4 million Americans are caregivers to adult loved ones with a mental illness, most often a son or daughter, parent, spouse or sibling.
Jean Moore (left) shares a laugh with her sister, Ruby Wilson, in front of the assisted living facility where Wilson lives on Oct. 12, 2017, in Clinton, N.C. (Andrew Craft for Kaiser Health News)
Recently, the Kaiser Health News published a wonderful story about two sisters, Jean and Ruby and their bond as sisters, one with paranoid schizophrenia.
The girls grew up very close, almost like twins. “They used to say our name as JeannieandRuby. It was like one person.” But as they became teenagers, Rudy’s mental health changed and their lives began to diverge. As they became adults, Jean became a caregiver and an even closer sister. READ STORY
WisconSibs offers Sibshops to children ages 8-14 who are growing up with brothers or sisters with emotional or mental health concerns. Each session is held in a relaxed setting with games, snacks, and discussion about the concerns and the joys of growing up with their sibling. Held at the Catalpa Day Treatment Center in Appleton, siblings can join in any time during the series from January through May, 2018. For more information.
“Caregiving situations for siblings pack an extra emotional punch for the caregiver,” said John Schall, who runs the Caregiver Action Network, a nonprofit organization that supports people providing care to loved ones. “It’s not unusual for us to think at some point of being the caregiver for our elderly parents, but it’s a whole different thing to be a caregiver for a sibling who we always thought of as equals.”
JOIN US for a Community Dialogue on Family Caregivers – Monday, January 29, 2018 at the WisconSibs office, 211 E Franklin St., Appleton, WI – MORE INFORMATION
family members who provide care to other family members (of any age or disability),
individuals receiving care, and
professionals providing services to caregivers.
This is a great opportunity to get information that will help you as a caregiver and voice your thoughts on what you need.
You will hear other caregivers, along with local professionals, discuss their experiences as care givers and what they have learned that could be helpful to others. This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
Two sessions are being offered: 1:30-3:00 pm and 4:30-6:00 pm
Harriet Redman with Amanda Upton 2017 Sibling’s Choice Award. Nominated by Charlotte and Eleanor Woeflel and presented by Former WI Governor Martin J. Schreiber
Caregivers. Most siblings don’t see themselves that way. But the fact is that nearly EVERYBODY in the U.S., regardless if they are a sibling or not:
– has been a caregiver for a family member.
– currently is a caregiver for a family member.
– will be a caregiver for a family member.
This month, WisconSibs CELEBRATE caregivers…those people who may help a family member get to the doctor, make a meal, clean their home, shovel their sidewalks, drive them to church, take them grocery shopping, balance their checkbook, pay their bills, pick out their daily clothing, help them eat, use the bathroom, get ready for bed, take their meds ….WHATEVER the care needed, they are there.
Lori Moy, 2017 Sibling’s Choice Award winner, with brother Jon and family.
This year, WisconSibs, inc was honored to award the 9th annual Sibling’s Choice Awards to Amanda Upton and Lori Moy. These two women represent nearly 600,000 caregivers in Wisconsin who devote over 500 million hours of unpaid care to loved ones. READ MORE about them
More recently,WisconSibs, Inc has joined forces with other disability and aging agencies throughout Wisconsin to form the Wisconsin Family Caregiver Support Alliance. This group has many projects for 2018 to support caregivers. READ MORE
Recently, the Community Foundation of the Fox Valley Region reported on the Autism and Me project that WisconSibs started a couple years ago. We were able to reach many kids growing up with a sibling with autism, but if we missed YOU, please let us know and we’ll get you a book.
The feature story is about Katie and Kristie Carlsen, sisters who live together and really help one another get through life. While not originally what either of them planned, they are having a great time living in the community together. Read about what it takes to be a caregiver sister and the rewards they both enjoy.
Other news includes:
Tips for Caregivers Sibs
A Letter of Thanks from an Adult with Disabilities to Her Sibs
WisconSibs conducts many different activities during Sibshops, like the “Sound Off” activity. This activity has the child answer a few questions. This is not just a great writing activity, but also a great conversation to have with your kids.
The activity goes like this:
If I could tell…. (my parents, my friends, my teacher, the whole world)
Just ONE THING that is …. (good, so-so…)
About having a sib with special needs it would be….
Some of the examples we received were:
If I could tell my friends,
Just one thing that is good
About having a sib with special needs it would be: that I get to be noticed from her and I get to come here.
If I could tell The whole world
Just one thing that is good
About having a sib with special needs it would be: I ALWAYS have a friend.
If I could tell my parents
Just one thing that makes me angry about having a sibling with a disability, it would be:
The amount of attention my sibling gets even if I know the reason why.
If I could tell my parents
Just one thing that is not-so-good
About having a sib with special needs it would be: I feel like I have to make them proud enough to fill the void of my sibling not doing so well in school.
Parents, this would be a great activity to do with your children! Some sibs may not want to share a not-so-good moment because they understand that you are busy and you don’t need more stress. These questions can bridge the gap. Also, sound offs can create a great atmosphere of positivity! Give it a try and let us know how it went for you.
The counselors at Sibdays of Summer truly set the tone for the week. Camp is an amazing experience not only for the campers, ages 6-12, attending but for the teen counselors as well. They develop relationships with the kids and with one another.
At the end of camp we ask the parents and counselors to fill out a survey to get feedback. One of the questions that we asked our counselors is what they felt they got out of volunteering for the week.
Multiple answers reflected on what WisconSibs is truly about, relationships with other siblings. They form a special bond with the other counselors and friendships that truly will last through all their life adventures. The counselors also said how great it was being able to work with the kids and seeing their growth throughout the week and how amazing it felt at the end, knowing they were apart of something like this.
Many noticed how their own leadership skills grew from participating with our Teen Sib Leadership training and then the week of SibDays. The counselors had a great week and we are so grateful for all of their hard work and dedication!
How do you feel you benefited from being a volunteer counselor at SibDays?
“It showed me how unique the kids are and that they each have their own ways of learning.” (age 14)
“I got to spend time with kids other than my siblings and have fun with them.” (age 14)
“I got better.” (age 14)
“I had fun but took charge.” (age 15)
“I have met some of my best friends from SibDays.” (age 15)
“The feeling of making a difference and helping the kids.” (age 16)
“The feeling after the week is just amazing, knowing you contributed.” (age 16)
“I feel like I am more responsible.” (age 16)
“I love being a counselor for kids. It’s so much fun!” (age 17)
“I was able to meet new people and also practice my leadership skills.” (age 17)
“It gives me a sense of purpose.” (age 17)
“Connecting with others and helping campers.” (age 17)
“I feel that I made an impact on the kids and know more about myself.” (age 19)
“Knowing other people like you are out there and making a difference in someone’s life.” (age 21)
If you saw our quarterly newsletter, SibNews July-September 2017, you met Jenni. Her older brother, Mike, has been a huge part of her life, including her career decision: special education teacher. What does she want every sibling to know? Find out Jenni’s story in this short video. Then be one of the first to subscribe [read more]
Hello! My name is Karenna Lillo and I am proud to be a WisconSib! My favorite food is chicken pho and love the color purple. I have been involved with WisconSibs since the early age of 6. I remember attending many SibDays of Summer as a camper and counselor. I always look forward to Curt’s Carnival! My brother Jordan is 21 years old and lives with Autism. My favorite activity to do with my brother is to go on long car rides. Jordan can always make me feel good with his constant smiles and you’d be surprised at how high and loud he can jump in the morning. Jordan graduated from high school this year!
My summer as an WisconSibs intern flew by! I think back to when I had my interview with Harriet in March and how much I have personally changed. I went from thinking that I would just work in a daycare for the entire summer to having a job that actually made a difference both in the community and for myself.
I have seen just how much energy it is to run a non-profit. Originally, I thought non-profits were easy systems that anyone can run. Boy, was I wrong! Harriet just makes it look incredibly easy and graceful. She truly has the best intentions for every sib that she encounters.
From this experience, I can now say that I have experience running fundraisers, acting as an Assistant Director for a summer camp, organizing lots of supplies, and writing newsletter articles (check it out) and editing websites! What other summer job could create that kind of resume? I will certainly take all of these skills with me for the rest of my life.
What’s next? – I will return to Concordia University Wisconsin to continue working on my rehabilitative science undergrad and then eventually a master’s in Occupational Therapy. I am also excited to be working as a resident assistant for the Bethesda College on campus! I will personally be an RA to 6 residents. I’m looking forward to continuing to help with various WisconSibs activities in the future.