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Joseph Maley Family Support Offers New Opportunities for Siblings

The Joseph Maley Family Support program will offer new opportunities for siblings of individuals with disabilities in 2018, while continuing to provide comprehensive resources to families and children of all abilities.

2018 brings exciting changes to Joseph Maley Foundation programming as we continue our efforts serving children of all abilities.  Joseph Maley Family Support is a comprehensive program that works in in collaboration with educators, schools, community organizations, and attorneys to provide critical support and resources to children with disabilities and their families.

When the program launched in 2014, it focused on supporting families as they navigate the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, which outlines the accommodations and services a child with disabilities ought to receive during the school day. As a complement to this, JMF offers Continuing Legal Education classes for attorneys to deepen their understanding of special education law.  Families participating in Joseph Maley Family Support can engage pro bono services from an attorney should their IEP process require it.

Our concentration within Joseph Maley Family Support has expanded to include Sibling Workshops.  These workshops provide siblings of children with disabilities an opportunity to share their experiences with others in a safe and comfortable setting. Molly Shawhan, JMF Program Assistant, drew upon her experience growing up with her brother Tommy, who has disabilities, as she facilitated the first of these workshops.  She offered, “As a facilitator, the biggest thing I see a participant experience is a sense of belonging and understanding in knowing that they are surrounded by people who ‘get it’, who know the joys and challenges of being a sibling to someone with disabilities.”

We are thrilled to announce that the first Joseph Maley Family Support Summer Sibling Camp will be offered in 2018.  The week-long experience will engage campers in activities from other Joseph Maley Foundation programs, such as Service Day, HOPE, and disABILITY Awareness, as well as provide opportunities to deepen relationships with other siblings of individuals with disabilities.

The continuing workshops and the inaugural summer camp are made possible through the guidance of trained facilitators who have a shared background with participants.  Joseph Maley Family Support Program Coordinator Mary Bowman discussed the importance of and need for these talented facilitators, “During our first facilitator training, one of the young adults looked around at the group and commented that she really wished there would have been something like this when she was growing up.  We need compassionate young adults who have a sibling with a disability to help facilitate…from a place of understanding.”

In addition to the Sibling Workshop expansion, Joseph Maley Family Support will continue to offer professional development opportunities for educators and administrators to learn proactive approaches to meet each of their students’ unique needs.  Love Remains, which supports families experiencing infant loss, will move under the Joseph Maley Family Support umbrella in 2018.  Comprehensive resources for families are a vital part of serving children of all abilities; Joseph Maley Family Support continues to fulfill those needs in unique ways.

If you are interested in learning more about Joseph Maley Family Support, or want to know more about becoming a Sibling Workshop Facilitator, please contact Family Support Program Coordinator Liz Freisen at  liz.freisen@josephmaley.org or 317.721.8043.