Since 1983, Care Partners has provided non-medical support to pediatric hematology/oncology and blood and marrow transplant patients and their families at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. While volunteers have always been the heart of the program, Care Partners also provides funding for a variety of programs and services that support the entire family as they navigate the many ups and downs of treatment.
Recently, Care Partners began funding Sibshops, a workshop program that focuses on the siblings of a child with special health care needs. When a child is diagnosed with cancer or other life-threatening illness, the entire family experiences a great deal of loss, including the siblings, who are uniquely affected by the impacts of the illness. They experience a drastic change in their family life, often accompanied by feelings of confusion, fear, anger, isolation and jealousy. Sibshops combines information and group discussion with fun activities and games to provide an outlet for siblings to express their feelings and to relate with other kids going through a similar situation.
The program is facilitated by Child Family Life Specialists, like Emily Trester, as part of Amplatz’s family-centered care focus. Emily notes that “When children have a sibling with a serious illness, they often feel left out. They may not be able to understand why their ill sibling needs more attention. Sibshops give siblings an opportunity to be the center of attention and to also learn about the hospital environment and common procedures that their siblings endure. Mostly, it allows children a place to have fun! By focusing on the healthy children in the family, we are embracing and supporting the whole family.”
To learn more about Sibshops, visit http://SiblingSupport.org.