A Lake Norman High School student's senior project aims to provide resources and support to young people who have a disabled sibling.
Lajja Pancholy, 18, was inspired to bring SibShops, a national sibling support project, to Mooresville after working with disabled children at a summer camp.
“It was the first time that I had really interacted with kids who had disabilities, and I had a lot of preconceived ideas that were just blown away," she said.
Through SibShops, kids ages 8-15 will learn more about their siblings' disabilities and meet peers in the same situation. The goal for participants, Pancholy said, is to help "build lifelong connections" between siblings.
The first meeting will be held May 14 at Talbert Recreation Center. The hour-and-a-half session will include samples of SibShops activities that families can expect at future meetings.
Project mentor Kellye Slaggert, a licensed therapist at Playful Connections Therapy Center LLC in Cornelius, helped Pancholy bring the SibShops project to Mooresville.
Slaggert and fellow therapist Pam Orf run camps for the Statesville Recreation and Parks Department’s PEP (People Enjoying People) Club which serve special-needs children from first grade until high school graduation. Pancholy volunteered at the camp.
“I fell in love with the kids,” she said.
Pancholy said the siblings of special-needs students can use an outlet to learn more about their brother's or sister’s disability. She began working with Slaggert on bringing SibShops to the area last year.
“We want to form a support network for people in similar situations,” Pancholy said. “Sometimes, siblings of children who have challenging medical situations can feel isolated and they need to be around other people that understand what they’re going through.”
If the meeting garners enough interest, SibShops will continue once a month. Slaggert has agreed to continue the program after Pancholy graduates in June.
“Right now, we’re trying to gauge how much interest there is in the community and get the word out,” Pancholy said. “I hope people understand the benefits of the program, so we can continue it into the coming year.”
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: SibShops meeting
WHEN: 5-6:30 p.m. May 14
WHERE: Talbert Recreation Center, 210 Talbert Pointe Drive, Mooresville
CONTACT: 704-608-6812 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ONLINE: Register at SibShopsLKN.com