Cornering the Market

Helping children cope with family illness

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SIBSPlace

An Affiliate of South Nassau Communities Hospital

1420 Broadway, Hewlett

(516) 374-3000

www.sibsplace.org

Need has been the driving force behind SIBSPlace, a free program that focuses on children who have a brother, sister or parent suffering with a life-threatening illness. Recognizing the need for support and action, SIBSPlace offers a haven for children, ages 5-17, who can truly benefit from a nurturing “extended family.”

All too often, the well child of a family in crisis is unintentionally left behind (attention-wise) as focus goes to the child or parent who requires treatment and care. The well child suffers from an interrupted routine, disappointments and confusing emotions like fear, jealousy, sadness, anger, guilt, embarrassment and anxiety. Others around them cannot understand what they are experiencing, so the well child might feel isolated and different. SIBSPlace steps in and not only offers comfort and support, but activities to re-establish lost routines and a cheerful atmosphere. Children are encouraged to express and explore their feelings, thus normalizing and validating their emotions.

 Help with homework and family style dinners are part of the program. Children and teens can partake in age-appropriate discussion groups, art therapy, zumba, yoga, and field trips. They are given a toolbox of coping skills, guided by mental health professionals who care. Birthdays and holidays are acknowledged to reinforce traditions and to encourage families to bond. The staff - which includes mental health professionals and community volunteers - provides a trusting, consistent environment for children and teens to feel supported, while also having fun.

 Parents have access to support groups as well. They are offered a much-needed respite, knowing their well child or children are being looked after and cared for at the program.

 Executive Director of SIBSPlace, Suzanne Kornblatt, is a licensed social worker, who received her graduate degree from Adelphi University. She has been with the organization since 2004, and partakes in the development of prevention and support services. Among other tasks, she helps create the children’s therapeutic curriculum, aids with bereavement support groups, and facilitates special events. Assistant Director, Joanna Formont, takes the lead in curriculum planning, and Kerri Wagner, specializes in the art therapy and writes the art curriculum.

Involvement at SIBSPlace is very much like having an extended family, which can be a great comfort when going through a crisis. Well children are remembered, made to feel special, and have people on their side who will listen.

Visit their website — www.sibsplace.org — to see how you can receive help, or be of help. SIBS Place is a not-for-profit organization. It was originally for only well siblings (hence, the SIB), and evolved to include well children of parents who have been diagnosed with cancer.