On November 8, 2018, Children’s Village’s Sibshop was bustling with children ages six to twelve, who were all excited about the commencement of the holiday season. Sibshops is an event for the brothers and sisters of the children with special needs who come through the Village’s doors. During this event, the children are given a chance to talk with other sibs, sharing their feelings, and also have fun!
The children started out coloring and conversing with the mentors at their table. Mentors are teenage graduates of Sibshops who come back as volunteers. The mentors showed great interest in what the children were telling them, whether it be showing off their knowledge of the alphabet or feeling sad that their coloring page didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to. The mentors would encourage the latter and help them fix their pages if asked.
During the activity, the children made wreaths with leaves on them, telling what the child was thankful for. Many interesting and creative ones were shared; Experiences, memes, wi-fi, broccoli, and bubbles, to name a few. Some children needed some help finishing their wreaths in time, so their mentors helped them.
After dinner, the staff held a meeting for the children to share about their siblings with special needs. Many of the children shared about their siblings; when they did, they shared about their siblings’ needs, but they also shared about their siblings’ favorite foods, favorite television shows, and other facts about them not pertaining to their siblings needs. One girl, when talking about her sister with Down syndrome, mostly shared about how funny and amazing her sister was.
This experience demonstrated not only the hearts of the staff but also the hearts of the siblings of children with special needs. The staff showed enthusiasm and investment in the children’s feelings at the beginning of the Sibshop in talking with them as well as patience with the children during the activities in helping them with their wreaths. For the children’s parts, they showed kindness and love in describing their siblings. They acknowledged that though their siblings had special needs, they were still their siblings and still children who liked many of the same things that they did.