OHEL Bais Ezraâ€™s Sibshops Program Empowers SiblingsÂ Who Have a Brother/Sister with a Disability
Whether from a family with a child challenged by Autism to Down Syndrome, a diversityÂ of siblings â€“ Ashkenazi to Sephardi, Chassidic to Modern Orthodox, have become regularÂ participants in OHEL Bais Ezraâ€™s dynamic SibShops program.
These support groups in Brooklyn, Flatbush Long Island, Far Rockaway, Queens and the FiveÂ Towns - for siblings aged 7-16, successfully bring together children of different backgrounds thatÂ are the brothers and sisters of children and young adults with developmental disabilities. ThereÂ are separate groups for boys and for girls.
In these family situations, while the typical sibling is characteristically very supportive in an oftenÂ overwhelming environment, he or she commonly finds neither the time nor the opportunity toÂ reflect upon or share their own inner feelings about the challenges and concerns they may face.
SibShops provides the safety in groups where these siblings can discuss their feelings, shareÂ their trials and ask the questions they would find difficult to ask their own parents.
SibShops has created life-long friendships between children of shared experiences. More andÂ more, these sibling participants spend time together outside of their Sibshop Group meetings - inÂ each otherâ€™s homes, weddings and more.
One parent enthusiastically said â€śOur daughter has made such wonderful friends through theÂ Sibshops. This past Sunday, the girls got together to spend a good part of the day together. SheÂ said 'Mommy, we were walking together on the street, two Satmar girls, a Lubavitcher girl, andÂ me! So we both thank you for creating this opportunity for our daughter and for making siblings ofÂ special children feel special in their own way.â€ť
According to Chayale_Greenwal, Senior Manager of the SibShops program, â€śThis program is aÂ first of its kind, never has such a program been offered in the Jewish community. This programÂ gives a voice to those siblings who have sometimes felt that they are not being heard.â€ť
In partnership and under the leadership of Don Meyer, founder of SibShops, OHEL Bais EzraÂ has trained SibShop facilitators and the program is now being offered to 3 different age groups ofÂ different sexes.
The growth of the program has been phenomenal and OHEL Bais Ezra is looking to continue toÂ break down barriers and expand even further in the New York City and New Jersey area.
The connection that the participants establish is truly unique and exceptional as one siblingÂ stated to her mother, â€śThese friends arenâ€™t like my other friends there is some special connectionÂ amongst all of us in SibShops.â€ť