Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
SibShop, a new organization partnered with TopSoccer, kicked off its first semester this past Monday at the Field House. The club is a local association aimed at providing a fun peer support network and general outlet for the siblings of disabled youth. Head coordinators Grace Chang ’09, Katie Altynova ’08, and Kristin Caldwell ’09 say the club stemmed from a simple need that frequently escaped notice; “it’s often recognized that disabled children have particular needs and require extra services and that parents may need special support, but it’s rarely acknowledged that the siblings in the same family also require attention and need their own avenue to vent.” Through weekly games and activities, SibShop members hope to provide a relaxed atmosphere and safe space where brothers and sisters of disabled children can simply play, have fun, and voice concerns if need be.
Many of SibShop’s members feel a personal connection to the club’s stated mission. Chang explains that a few SibShop members “have disabled siblings themselves… they know how hard and isolating it is to deal with these issues, so it’s great to just be able to relate and help out.” Caitlyn Daimon ‘11 says she decided to join SibShop because one of her friends back home has a special sibling and she has seen how much these youth have to deal with. Other members joined because they enjoy working and interacting with children.
So far, Sibshop has enjoyed positive feedback and general receptiveness from the Swarthmore Community. TOPSoccer parents see SibShop as a respite for their children. Chang notes that “the siblings themselves love the games and enjoy getting to know each other.” The group spent the majority of the fall organizing and establishing the club in terms of funding. Coordinaters Chang, Altynova, and Caldwell hope to gain some momentum this semester and truly make their presence known while forming a strong, friendly relationship with participating families. Chang says the group’s “long-term goal is to be a permanent, stable fixture alongside Swarthmore TOPSoccer, serving any interested sibling in the local disability community.”
Sibshop meets every Monday night, along with TOPSoccer, from 7 – 8:15 PM in Classroom 14 of the Field House. If interested, contact Grace Chang at gchang1.