SIBS NJ, Lending a Helping Hand for Siblings
For Rutgers School of Social Work student Kara Sellix and her twin Kristen (a fellow MSW graduate), SIBS NJ was created as a result of a sister, a need for support and the desire to make real change. Kara and Kristen’s sister, Katie, was diagnosed with autism in 1999 at the age of three. Since then, autism awareness has become a way of life for twins Kristen and Kara.
With the help of a fellow Rutgers MSW student, Nancy Nasar, they started an organization called SIBS NJ: Supportive Initiatives for Brothers & Sisters as a reaction to the lack of support for siblings of individuals with disabilities across the lifespan. The organization seeks to help siblings connect with one another, and to the resources they need to help them and their siblings with disabilities live full, meaningful lives.
“We recognize that sibs need support and information across the life-span; from childhood when they are trying to understand their brother or sister's special need(s) and unique qualities, all the way into adulthood where sibs often become the care givers and/or guardians of their sibs,” Kara said. “As a result, they must be connected to resources throughout their lives in order to help them and their siblings live full, meaningful and successful lives as care givers, advocates and families of the future.”
Through the tireless efforts of the SIBS NJ team, in July they were named the New Jersey chapter for the Sibling Leadership Network (SLN) and they will officially have their first meeting on September 8th from 7:00-8:15 p.m. in the twins’ hometown of Wayne, N.J. At the meeting, Kara and her team hope to connect with sib teens, young adults and adults in Northern New Jersey, though parents, service providers and educators are welcome as well.
“We are very interested to see the ages of those who show up,” Sellix said. “We want to provide information on the organization, do ice breakers, give out our contact information, and ask everyone what they want to get out the experience. Ultimately, we want to give them a space for support.”
Kara says that she is motivated to work hard for her sister, and by her sister. In Kara’s personal blog, http://i-do-this-for-katie.tumblr.com/, she discusses her life as a sibling, including the trials and triumphs that go along with her responsibility as a sister, advocate and as she says herself, above all, as a human-being.
For more information about SIBS NJ, check out their website at http://www.sibsnj.org/.