Nate and Lexi Meier. (Submitted photo)

Nate and Lexi Meier. (Submitted photo)

Reach sibling support group now meeting monthly online

FortisBC sponsorship allows siblings of children with a special needs to meet more than once a year

Siblings of children with a developmental diagnosis can find support through a recently-expanded group run by Delta-based Reach Child and Youth Development Society.

Reach’s SibShops group allows kids to connect with others whose siblings have special needs. The group focuses on helping children understand that there are other kids who share similar experiences, that they are not alone in their joys and frustrations, and that their feelings are natural.

Thanks to a recent three-year sponsorship commitment from FortisBC, SibShops is now able to meet online every month instead of just once a year. Since it began meeting virtually in September has grown to 16 siblings who attend regularly, with registration for the group continuing to climb.

“We are so grateful to FortisBC for their three-year commitment to sponsor this expanded SibShops program” Reach development manager Kristin Bibbs said in a press release.

Lexi Meier is a 17-year-old who has attended SibShops’ annual sessions for the past five years — first as sibling of her neurodiverse brother Nate before returning as a program mentor — who was inspired by her experiences in the group to create a high school capstone project focused on reducing stigma around neurodiversity in the classroom.

“SibShops gave me what I needed to establish a strong relationship with my brother,” Lexi said in a press release.

Lexi said she believes in the way SibShops teaches kids that it’s okay to ask for help and aids them in building resilience, and that participants trust that the new virtual SibShops is a safe place to share and learn new and creative ways to cope within their family.

In the last five months, SibShops has provided the siblings with a structured, informative play-based platform to share experiences and learn coping skills using a myriad of exercises and games, facilitating fun and connections among the cohort.

Further, thanks to FortisBC’s support, the group members were also able to have a virtual Christmas pajama party where they enjoyed themed games including Skriblio, a Christmas scavenger hunt and holiday charades.

To learn more about SibShops or request a program referral form, call 604-946-6622.

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