WisconSibs Sibshops are workshops for children ages 6-12 who are brothers and sisters of children with disabilities or long-term illnesses. Typically lasting three to four hours, Sibshops are lively, relaxed events that combine recreation, information, and discussion, and give siblings the opportunity to celebrate the contributions and the challenges of their brothers and sisters with others their age who “get it.”
Sibshops are guided by trained facilitators (school psychologists, teachers, counselors or adult siblings, for example) in small, age-appropriate groups. All are trained in sibling issues, and always keep an eye open for participants who may need additional support.
More information – Click for Sibshop FAQ.
For information about joining the WisconSibs troupe of Sibshop facilitators, click here.
Sibshops have been offered monthly during the school year in northeastern Wisconsin since 1997 by the Fox Valley Sibling Support Network, now known as WisconSibs/Fox Valley. Most are for boys and girls, but our S.P.A. (Sisters are Pretty Awesome) Sibshop is just for girls and their moms, and our H.U.L.K. (Huggable Unselfish Loveable Kids) Sibshop is just for boys and their dads.
WisconSibs is proud to be a registered Sibshop provider for over 25 years, along with over 800 Sibshops registered throughout the world. Click for CALENDAR
Listen in on a Sibshop. Sibshop Frequently Asked Questions.
Want to attend Sibshops but not able to make it to the scheduled locations? Some local Arc or CESA organizations occasionally host these workshops, so check with them to see whether any are scheduled for your area.
To find a Sibshop near you, click here.
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Or, if you are an agency or individual wanting to know more about offering Sibshops where you live, contact the WisconSibs office.
Sibshops are celebrations of the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of kids with special health or developmental needs.
Whether you come to all the Sibshops, or just a couple, you are always welcome. You will find friends there.
Planning for the future is important for all adults as they grow older and life changes. But for people with developmental disabilities – especially those who have been cared for by their parents, who are themselves aging – it is even more important.
Where will they live? Who will take care of them? How will brothers and sisters be involved, especially if some of them live a distance away? What resources are available to help with options?
Without adequate plans in place, adults with disabilities may face disruptive transitions when families can no longer provide care, endure emergency placements in inappropriate settings and suffer through inadequate financial and legal safeguards, all of which place a strain on siblings and other relatives.
See what siblings who have participated in Journey Forward workshops say.
Workshop Part #1The WisconSibs Journey Forward program is offered as two half-day workshops.
You’ll learn how to get started and overcome barriers many siblings experience. You’ll get tips on how to involve your sibling and other family members. Local professionals who have experience working with families with disabilities will discuss the value of Special Needs Trusts, guardianship and other important legal, care, and work issues. You’ll leave with tools for successful planning and a good sense of the support and care of other adult siblings sharing similar concerns and joys. Siblings are encouraged to bring their brothers or sisters with disabilities along with other family members important in the future plans of their sibling.
Can’t wait to get started? Download the Journey Forward Letter of Intent
Siblings learn what is important in making sure the plan is successful. Local professionals will discuss with siblings the options available for housing, independent living, and finances.
Once you’ve completed both workshops, you will have a written document which describes your sibling’s desired future living arrangement, community role, and lifestyle preferences. This written plan will also include practical directions and information for maintaining continuity in his or her daily life and describe the supports needed to achieve these outcomes. This will help give you and your family peace of mind.
Fewer than half of families have developed specific plans for the future of their relative with a disability. But even when there are plans, siblings are often not fully aware of them. WisconSibs’ Journey Forward workshops help siblings connect and get informed.
Click HERE for Q & A about Journey Forward workshops
“I participated in the first series of the Journey Forward program offered by WisconSibs with my sisters Katie and Melanie. Melanie has Down Syndrome and lives with our mother.
“Siblings attend together with their sibling who has a disability and talks about their dreams for the future; such as living arrangements, job planning, daily activities, spiritual life and personal relationships that would like to be maintained. Together, we outline in detail each segment of our sibling’s life and write out on paper what our thoughts are. We have individual discussions with our sibling and also group discussions with all of the program participants.
“It can be eye-opening when you make the time to literally sit down with your sibling and ask direct questions about what their own dreams are. So often we make decisions for our sibling (or parents and caregivers make decisions for the person with the disability) without asking for their input and we assume we know what they want.
“The program gave us the tools to have the discussions in our family about planning. We also benefited from the conversations that we had with other adult siblings who are going through the same planning process such as us. During every session, we were all able to laugh together, cry together, and praise each other about our accomplishments; which were huge!
“I would definitely recommend this program to any family that has a person with a developmental disability within it. Even if you already have a concrete plan for that person, it is still a good idea to network with other siblings and share ideas, experiences, and brainstorms with each other. We are not alone and we are blessed to have the existence of the Fox Valley Sibling Support Network (now WisconSibs) in our community.” – Anne Muller