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Sibshops for Siblings of Children with Special Health and Developmental Needs

Seattle Children's Sibshops are lively, pedal-to-the-metal, award-winning celebrations of the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of kids with special needs. Sibshops acknowledge that being the brother or sister of a person with special needs is for some a good thing, others a not-so-good thing, and for many, somewhere in between. They reflect a belief that brothers and sisters have much to offer one another – if they are given a chance.

The Sibshop model mixes information and discussion activities with new games (designed to be unique, offbeat and appealing to a wide ability range) and special guests. There are currently more than 200 Sibshops across the United States, Canada and elsewhere. All are modeled after Children's Seattle-area Sibshops! To learn where else in the world you can find a Sibshop, visit the Sibling Support Project, a national program dedicated to the concerns of brothers and sisters of people with special needs. 

Sibshops for Siblings of Kids with Special Health and Development Needs includes, but is not limited to, diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and heart, kidney, liver, gastrointestinal or lung disease, autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, ADHD and spina bifida.

Classes in March and May are for siblings age 6 to 9. Classes in April and June are for siblings age 10 to 13.

Please call Sibshops registration at 206-987-4133 or email with questions.

Classes fill up quickly. All dates may not be available. Click the "Register" button below to check class availability.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are Sibshops?

When a child becomes ill, the entire family is affected. Sibshops provide support and guidance to siblings of children with special medical or developmental needs. Siblings are encouraged to share the challenges and celebrate the joys with brothers and sisters in similar situations.


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Who runs Sibshops?

Sibshops are run by a team of people who have professional and, in some cases, personal understanding of the impact a child's illness or disability can have on family members.  Equally important, they all have great kid skills! Both Sibshops sometimes have “junior facilitators” who are sibs in their later teen years. Cathy Harrison, child life specialist, and Lina Lewis, senior program coordinator, coordinate both Sibshops teams.


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Who facilitates Sibshops for siblings of kids with special developmental and learning needs?

We have a fabulous team of facilitators. Ariane Gauvreau (psychology graduate with a master’s in special education and adult sib of a young man with mental health issues), Autumn Rusch (playroom coordinator at Seattle Children’s with a BA in education and former transplant patient) and Tricia Bertsch (playroom coordinator at Seattle Children’s with a master’s in teaching and parent of a medically complex child) will be joined by very dedicated Sibshop volunteers.


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Who facilitates Sibshops for siblings of kids with special health needs and/or developmental concerns?

Our team of facilitators include Maricel Floresca (social worker for Rheumatology and Gastroenterology at Seattle Children’s), Ursala Schwenn (playroom coordinator at Seattle Children’s and research coordinator with the UW School of Nursing, also adult sibling of a sister with learning disabilities) and Mary Klump (playroom coordinator at Seattle Children’s). Wonderfully dedicated volunteers will assist them.


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Who do we thank?

Our Sibshops are made possible by generous sponsors like JoAnne and Alan Holt, the Vorhis H. Edwards Endowment for Sibling Support, the William A. and Betty Anne Nyberg Endowment for Sibling Support, registration fees and your generous financial support.


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Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)

Read the Teenology 101 Blog

The Teenology 101 blog is a guide for parents and caregivers raising teenagers, written by experts from our department of adolescent medicine.