On Friday, June 8, 2012, twenty-six kids traveled by bus to AHRC New York City's Camp Anne in Ancramdale, New York, to participate in the first ever Siblings' Weekend. The weekend at camp provided the siblings who participated with opportunities to enjoy fun and safe activities with other siblings, in a beautiful country venue, far away from their families!
AHRC NYC has been very active in supporting the siblings of people who have medical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities for more than thirty years. Well aware that siblings may sometimes feel that their families and their peers do not understand the unique challenges that they face, years ago AHRC New York City began running SibShops, which are held on weekends throughout the year. Designed primarily for school-age children, these professionally-guided workshops facilitate peer support and education, provided within a lively, recreational context that emphasizes a sibling's perspective. These workshops acknowledge that being the brother or sister of a person with a disability can be difficult, rewarding, and sometimes both.
Those who participated in Siblings Weekend had a great time hiking, swimming, and horseback riding, and held a talent show around the campfire.
"While I was sitting with the kids around the lunch table, I asked the kids, 'If you could change anything about this weekend, what would you change?' They told me that they would make the weekend last longer," says Annette Spallino, Sibling Services Coordinator, AHRC NYC. "Thanks to Mike [Michael Rose, Director, Camp Anne] and his team up there for helping all the kids have the best time!"
Following the activities of the weekend, some parents of the kids who participated in the visit to Camp Anne sent notes of appreciation to Michael Rose and Annette Spallino. Excerpts appear below:
"Thank you once again for extending the opportunity for Adisa to attend the camp last weekend. He shared that he enjoyed it... thanks again for your understanding and kindness... Nia enjoyed the camp immensely. I was also very grateful for the opportunity to have her attend Camp Anne. That was her first camp experience... The sibling weekend was an excellent idea and I hope that it would continue. As an AHRC member, I will certainly advocate for it to continue. Once again, thanks for everything. Greatly appreciated."
"I just wanted to say a great big THANK YOU! Kerece had a great time this weekend, this was her very first sleep over camp experience, and thank you for making it such a wonderful one. Once again, thank you to you and all of the staff that accompanied the kids on their trip. You enrich our lives by all that you guys do."
"Thanks for helping Madeline learn to spread her wings. It really does take a village to raise a child, and we're so happy you're part of ours. Lots of love!"
- The Naglers
AHRC New York City thanks all siblings of people with disabilities, for the courage they show as they support their brothers and sisters throughout their lives. For more information about these services, please contact Annette Spallino, Sibling Services Coordinator, AHRC New York City.