What do 5 girls from California, Florida, New York and Arizona have in common? They are all sisters of children with special needs who are growing up on Shlichus, and over Lag Baomer weekend they got a chance to meet each other for the first time.
Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe, a division of Merkos 302, has recognized the great need for sibling support for those children growing up with siblings with special needs. This past summer Yaldei launched SibClix, its brand new Siblings Program.
The SibClix Program is designed to provide a support system and network for the brothers and sisters of children with special needs living in remote areas without a frum peer group. The program uses online forums and interactive group and video chats to help connect siblings around the world. It includes an annual weekend retreat as well as regional events that allow the participants to meet in person and strengthen their friendships. Retreats and events center around fun activities designed to bring kids together, build trust and eventually open up and support one another. SibClix includes trained mental professionals and educators in the development and implementation of our programs to ensure that participants receive the highest level of support.
Over Lag Baomer SIbClix hosted its first ever SIbling Shabbaton this weekend. The program was attended by 5 sisters who were flown in by Yaldei from around the country. The girls enjoyed an incredible weekend jam packed with fun activities and bonding time.
On Friday the girls had a special homemade breakfast to gather their energy for bowling and arcade games at Chelsea Piers. They had a delicious lunch of New York style pizza and then visited the Sky Rink for some ice skating on a semi private rink. Friday night davening in 770 was a treat followed by a meal hosted by Rabbi and Mrs. Zaltsman.
On Shabbos the girls davened at 770 and joined the Schmukler Family for the sueda. After the meal they were treated to a fun and interactive workshop by Mrs. Chana Shagalow where they were given a chance to experience what it means to have a special challenge. Mrs. Shagalow is a shlucha and the director of Sha’arim, a special education program in Minnesota, along with being the mother of a child with special needs. After the workshop, each sister had the opportunity to share their own experiences with one another. The girls visited with family and on Motzei Shabbos they joined the community bonfire and had a Sushi snack.
The SibClix Sisters marched with Friendship Circle of Brooklyn in the Parade and had the opportunity to help as volunteers and experience the world of special needs in a different light. After the parade the girls visited the Ohel.
After breakfast on Monday and a tour of the Yaldei and SibClix headquarters, the girls headed to the airport and back home. Saying goodbye to new friends was tough, but knowing they would soon be seeing each other at the next SibClix Sisters’ Online Meeting made it easier. The SibClix Sisters had an amazing time, the Shabbaton was an incredible success!
A huge thanks to all those that made this necessary program a possibility. Thank you to Yaldei’s Directors, Sholly Weiser, Dovid Leib Shur, SibClix Sisters Coordinator Mushka Cohen, and SibClix Coordinator, Layah Shagalow.
Thank you to Chaya Cohen, Chani Weinman and Faigy Goldin for helping chaperone. Thank you to the Feiglin, Zaltsman and Schmukler families for hosting us so graciously.
Yaldei is looking forward to our upcoming men’s event, An Evening in the Park in the Prospect Park Picnic House on July 8th, honoring Shliach and Board Member, Rabbi Yisroel Wilhelm of Boulder, CO.
For more information on SibClix and other Yaldei Programs and to donate please visit www.yaldei.com or call 646-558-5800.