APPLETON, WI—If you take a close look at Harriet Redman you will realize she is a woman of incredible wisdom and strength. This is first and foremost because she raised a son born in 1992 with a rare chromosomal abnormality that affected Phillip’s ability to walk, speak, and meet many developmental milestones. Harriet and her family, which included older sibling Christiana, were determined that Phillip be an involved and included member of the family and one day, while playing their special version of soccer, Christiana vocalized a very adult thought for a seven year old: “What will happen one day when you and Daddy die?”
It’s a question many siblings of special needs kids will have, but fear to express, and it led to the founding of the non-profit organization WisconSibs (which happened officially in 1998.) Since then, this noteworthy organization has continued to grow, launch or partner in programs, and provide the circle of support that is so vital to the siblings of children diagnosed with conditions. When a child has a mental, medical, genetic or developmental diagnosis, it disrupts the family–their time, budgets, attention, energy, sleep, careers, etc. Siblings, although they love to help, can experience guilt or short-term resentment. With the support of an organization like WisconSibs, which provides help across Wisconsin, siblings learn to develop resiliency, natural leadership skills, and coping strategies. Most importantly, Harriet says, they realize they are not the only ones in this crazy position, and that’s utterly empowering.
WisconSibs provides many different programs that help children ages 6 to 12 to feel supported, talk about their roles, face doubts, and learn what to expect as both siblings grow into adults. One of those programs is Sibshop, an award-winning workshop that was first launched by Don Meyer in Seattle, Washington. They also run summer camp programs, both day and sleepover, where siblings discuss concerns and joys while having fun, engaging in recreation, and getting the respite time that is important to everyone in the family. WisconSibs also engages families in activities that help create awareness or raise funds such as the Sibs are My Peeps contest which recreates family engagement using the marshmallow candies. Recently, they began to test a new program geared to siblings from ages 3 to 5, so they can learn to understand and express what happens in their families.
In her radio show, Harriet is going to talk about these various programs, how and why her organization was founded, and home in on the crucial role that siblings have when someone in the family has an illness or disability. She will also stress how important it is for society and service providers to embrace the needs of the sibling (and not just the client or parents ) We salute her for her brave efforts and look forward to learning all she has to share–including how motivated people can donate to this wonderful non-profit!
WOW!! The Peeps really came out in force this spring! More than 30 entries in our recent Sibs Are My Peeps photo contest. This annual awareness raising event brings out the most creative, most fun-loving peeps. See the results!
Congratulations to our finalists:
Taelyn, Gia, and Maribel from Brillion for “Peep on Swimming”
Glenbrook Elementary School – Mrs. Rettler’s class for “Go Peeps Go”
Anna & Analiese from New London/Hortonville, WI for “Peeps Grand Cinema”
Leah Quinn from Neenah for “Peep Yoga Studio”
The staff and clients of CP Fox Cities for “Party on Peepabago”
A2Z Design from Appleton for “Peeps Be Chillin'”
Elise from Appleton for “Peepin’ Around the Farm”
Penelope from Hortonville for “Peeps Cabin”
and honorable mention from entries by Denmark High School Photography students.
In preparation for National Caregiver Month (November), WisconSibs, Inc is participating in the Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance (WFACSA) You Might Be a Caregiver If… campaign to raise awareness of the needs of caregivers.
This Special Anniversary Edition of SibNews features Ben and his sister, Amanda. Ben has been active with WisconSibs since practically the beginning and shares how the organization and the siblings he’s met has made a difference in his life.
Plus, LOTS OF PHOTOS from our 20th Anniversary Celebration and some of the amazing treasures found in the Time Capsule that siblings created 20 years ago at one of the first Sibshops.
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
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
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]
Hi my name is Jyll Van Vooren. I have been a WisconSib for over 5 years. Within WisconSibs I have been a counselor for SibDays of Summer and the Circles of Life Conference.
My brother is Noah Van Vooren. He is 22 years old and has Down syndrome. A couple of our favorite things to do together are taking walks, car rides with tons of singing, going to Miracle League, and watching football. My favorite thing about Noah is his love for others and his genuine happiness that he radiates to those around him.
In a blink of an eye the summer of being an intern for WisconSibs is wrapping up. I have learned an incredible amount in these past ten weeks. As an intern, I was able to partake in helping with fundraisers, special events, meetings, helping coordinate and run Teen Sib Leadership Day, and being an Assistant Director for the older campers at SibDays of summer. I have learned how to coordinate a fundraiser and other events with various companies to host events that benefit the WisconSib organization. Harriet has been a great role model and has taught me a great amount about nonprofit’s and how they are run. She truly is the heart of WisconSibs and it was amazing being able to learn from her. I am extremely grateful to have been involved in WisconSibs in this unique way. It was truly a great learning experience and it was a great summer!
What’s next? – I’m returning to Concordia University of Wisconsin as a Junior, where I am focusing on Social work. I am also blessed to have a new position at school: ARD (assistant resident director) of two dorms. All of what I have learned from WisconSibs will be applied to this year of school and beyond!
Thanks to WisconSibs donors for making this internship opportunity possible. You make a big difference.