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Harford to offer first 'SibShop' program April 21 for siblings of children with special needs

From the office of Harford County Executive Barry Glassman:

Siblings of children with special needs have special needs themselves.

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To help families address these needs, the Harford County Office of Disability Services, under the administration of County Executive Barry Glassman, is excited to offer the county's first "SibShop" from 10a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air.

Specially trained staff from Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital will facilitate the program. Registration is $10 including lunch; the registration deadline is Friday, April 13.

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SibShop is a national program under The Sibling Support Project that brings together children ages 6-12 who have a brother or sister with a serious illness, unique health concern or developmental need. Children at a SibShop play high-energy games in a safe and fun environment, and talk about the joys and challenges of having a sibling with special needs.

Children who have special-needs siblings often develop many wonderful qualities including patience, compassion, dependability, and acceptance of differences. But they may also have conflicting feelings or difficulty coping. They may feel anxiety, guilt, jealousy, fear, or feel pressured to do what their sibling cannot do. Meeting and talking with their peers can be very beneficial.

"While every sibling and family is different, siblings of children with special health care needs can struggle with feeling understood," said Rachel Harbin, coordinator of the Harford County Office of Disability Services. "We want to offer them a place to express themselves, develop peer support systems, and, most importantly, to feel special."

To register for the Harford County SibShop, contact Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital at sibshops@mwph.org or 410-578-5169.

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For more information, or to learn about other programs available to individuals with disabilities and their families, please contact Rachel Harbin, coordinator for the Harford County Office of Disability Services at 410.638.3389 or raharbin@harfordcountymd.gov.

To learn more about The Sibling Support Project, please visit www.siblingsupport.org/.



Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.
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