Page 42

Special Need Siblings (SNS) : Non-Profit Organization

Providing resources and support for the siblings of individuals with disabilities

S T2T

pecial Need Siblings (SNS) is a unique, local nonprofit with a global vision to provide support and resources for Special Needs Siblings one family at a time. The mission aims to educate, empower and encourage the siblings of disabled individuals by providing education, resources and supportive programs for the SNS family. The Special Needs Siblings vison is to provide a place where there are ample resources and support for the siblings of individuals with disabilities. Special Needs Siblings promotes unity within our community by bringing awareness and bridging the gap between the siblings at home and in the community at large. The journey of Special Needs Siblings began in 2015 with me, Jeniece Stewart. I am the mother of five incredible children: Christian – 13, Caleb – 11, Jada – 10, Rose – 3, and Raymond -3. My eldest son has autism and intractable epilepsy and the youngest are twins. There are quite a few moments that led up to my creating SNS, but I will share one pivotal moment. Now, Christian has been going to different appointments on a weekly basis since he was 3 years old. These appointments vary in length, location, and type. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, pediatric neurologist, genealogist, ect… Well, it was not just

42 PHILANTHROPHY

Christian attending these appointments on a weekly basis; his siblings accompanied him. They were in the doctor’s office waiting rooms, and pacing parking lots with me. Then one appointment Caleb asked me if he could go to the doctor because Christian gets the most attention. He was really confused as to why his brother always got medicine and went to appointments. My first reactions were anger and defense. I did not understand why Caleb would want to go to appointments. Why would you want to have daily seizures, blood drawn, take medications and experience side effects… why?! While processing the question Caleb asked, I recalled the missed moments with Jada and Caleb when I was busy attending to Christian. I felt a rush of overwhelming emotions: guilt, pain, sadness. It hit me… I put so much emphasis in understanding Christian… I missed how out of place Caleb and Jada were feeling. I honestly never even asked. I knew they were healthy, so I assumed they were fine. My heart ached for them because my love for them was not less, but they felt that way. I sat and thought… am I alone… is it just me? This prompted me to search social media and websites for sibling support. I wanted to connect with other siblings and ask them about their personal experiences, but I discovered a lack of community awareness and assistance for the siblings in our families. The support for mothers, fathers, and varying disabilities was everywhere. It is easy to overlook the siblings within disabled families, but it is crucial we do not. Many of the estimated 4.9 million individuals with developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the United States have brothers and sisters. Siblings are there through the appointments, the tears, the joys, and sometimes become the caregivers after their parents have passed. The resources for the typical siblings were scarce. I longed for support. I could not find it, so I created it. I launched an Instagram account and Facebook page. Using the hashtag #SpecialNeedsSiblings, I asked parents to share their experiences, pictures, and stories while sharing my own. I encouraged parents and siblings to celebrate the siblings of the family, who at times were more like silent partners. I challenged parents to look in the mirror and ask tough questions while encouraging them to start fresh! We have grown from zero followers to over 20K in three years with connections around the world. Special Needs Siblings transcends every

12th ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Profile for Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine Jan/Feb 2019  

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine Jan/Feb 2019 12th Annual Edition

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine Jan/Feb 2019  

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine Jan/Feb 2019 12th Annual Edition

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded