Reach Child and Youth Development Society runs a group sponsored by FortisBC called Sibshops where siblings of children with a developmental diagnosis find support.
With FortisBC sponsorship, the group is now able to meet monthly instead of annually.
“We are so grateful to FortisBC for their three-year commitment to sponsor this expanded Sibshops program,” said Reach development manager Kristin Bibbs.
In addition, since FortisBC Sibshops began virtually in September, there are now 16 siblings attending regularly and registration continues to climb. These monthly virtual sessions allow participants to connect with other children who have a sibling with special needs. Sibshops focuses on helping children understand that there are other kids who share similar experiences, that they are not alone in their joys and frustrations that accompany being the sibling of a child with special needs and that their feelings are natural.
Lexi Meier is a 17-year-old who attended SibShops annual sessions for the past five years, first as sibling of her neurodiverse brother Nate and then returned as a program mentor. “Sibshops gave me what I needed to establish a strong relationship with my brother,” she says.
She believes in the way Sibshops teaches kids with siblings who have a diagnosis that it’s okay to ask for help and builds resilience. She adds the participants trust that the new virtual Sibshops is a safe place to share and learn new and creative ways to cope within their family. Lexi was inspired to create her high school capstone project to introduce neurodiversity and reduce stigma in the classroom from her experiences with Sibshops.
In the last five months, Sibshops has provided siblings with a structured, informative yet play-based platform to share experiences and learn coping skills using a myriad of exercises and games.
In addition, as a result of FortisBC’s support, participants were also able to have a virtual Christmas PJ party in which they enjoyed themed games including Skriblio, a Christmas scavenger hunt and holiday charades.The new virtual monthly sibling program has facilitated fun and connections among the cohort. Call 604-946-6622 to learn more or request a program referral form.