Inclusion is part of a much larger picture than just the placement in the class within mainstream schools. It is being included in life and participating in day to day activities as a member of the community using one’s abilities. The inclusion process must incorporate fundamental change in the way a community supports and addresses the individual needs of the child. The Sibling Workshops are one step towards that change.
Having a child with disability in the family affects every family member, including the siblings. Very often these siblings have to take on huge responsibilities and take care of the child with disability, despite their own age. This leads to different reactions e.g. feeling neglected, embarrassed, sad or stressed. The siblings are often confronted with high expectations from the parents.
Siblings of children with disabilities need a place to vent their feelings and help them cope with the family situation. They are often in the shadow since most of attention goes to their sibling with a disability. Due to the many responsibilities of taking care of their brothers/sisters living with disability, they rarely get a chance to express themselves. Facing stigma in the school and community is sometimes another challenge the siblings have.
Since 2016, SEP organizes Sibling Workshops in partnership with Sarakasi Trust with the aim of creating a platform for the siblings to learn about their sibling with disability, share experiences, talk about their feelings, their worries and their fears, and have fun with their peers. The Sarakasi team do what they do best: they use different games, songs, puppet shows and plays, with the aim to create more awareness and help the children to understand the condition of their sibling with a disability. SEP professionals explain in simple terms different disability conditions to the children and have counselling sessions with the teenager group.
The workshops end with a performance for parents and members of the community creating awareness on the challenges siblings of children with disabilities face. This is often an eye opener for the parents to understand the needs and challenges of the siblings.
The workshops have proven to be beneficial for the siblings in many ways. They understand disabilities and causes, and have been empowered. The siblings know that they are not alone in this situation.
The Sibling Workshops are scheduled 2-3 times a year during the school holidays. Siblings are divided in three age groups and experience different activities. So far 748 siblings have attended the workshops.
If you would like to support the Sibling Workshops or need further information, kindly contact the SEP office on Tel. 0733267869 or via email at email@example.com.