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What are Sibshops?

"For the adults who plan them and the agencies that sponsor them, Sibshops are best described as opportunities for brothers and sisters of children with special needs to obtain peer support and education within a recreational context. They reflect commitment to the well being of the family member most likely to have the longest-lasting relationship with the person with special needs.

However, for the young people who attend them and the energetic people who run them Sibshops are best described as events. Sibshops are lively, pedal-to-the-metal celebrations of the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of kids with special needs. Sibshops acknowledge that being the brother or sister of a person with special needs is for some a good thing, others a not-so-good thing, and for many somewhere in between. They reflect a belief that brothers and sisters have much to offer one another--if they are given a chance. The Sibshop model intersperses information and discussion activities with new games designed to be unique, offbeat, and appealing to a wide ability range. Sibshops are as fun and rewarding for the people who host them as they are for the participants.

Sibshops seek to provide siblings with opportunities for peer support. Because Sibshops are designed (primarily) for school-age children, peer support is provided within a lively, recreational context that emphasises kids' eye view.


Sibshops are not therapy, group or otherwise, although their effect may be therapeutic for some children. Sibshops acknowledge that most brothers and sisters of people with special needs, like their parents, are doing well, despite the challenges of an illness or disability. "

This description of Sibshops is taken from Chapter 1 of Sibshops: Workshops for siblings of children with special needs (Donald J. Meyer & Patricia F. Vadasy, 1994, Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company).

1999 saw the start of the SIBSHOP programme for the brothers and sisters of children with Down’s Syndrome in Bristol, sponsored and funded by our Branch.

This developed from Nikki’s interest as a sibling herself, leading her and Emma to attend a training workshop with the founder of the Sibshop programme, Don Meyer from Seattle, USA. They have subsequently run several Sibshops in Bristol at the Southville Centre.

The day’s programmes are developed with help from Don Meyer’s Sibshop books, and adapted to the interests of the young people who attend. The days so far have catered for 8 to 12 children over 6 years old, and they have designed their own Sibshop logo shown above, and had T shirts printed with the logo.

There are a mixture of physical games, more thoughtful activities, Art, and ever-popular food! The sibs are reassured that what they share will be confidential, and there is no pressure to talk about their siblings with Down’s Syndrome unless they wish to do so.

If one of your children would like to attend a Sibshop, or you are an adult sibling willing to help, please phone Nikki Fish on
0117 963 9847
. or click here to send Nikki an email




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