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About Sickkids
About SickKids

June 20, 2014

Attendance up at Sibling Appreciation and Education Day

By Kat Kostic

In the middle of the activity and anxiety that comes with the illness of a child, siblings sometimes feel they are left in the lurch.

SickKids set out to remedy that situation three years ago with the launch of the Annual Haematology/Oncology Sibling Appreciation and Education Day. The initiative is another way that SickKids delivers child- and family-centred care. The goal is to enhance the well-being of siblings of children with life-altering illnesses by providing creative and fun activities that promote the expression of feelings and build self-esteem.

“Siblings of children with severe illnesses often find themselves in the background, sacrificing their own needs which overlooked and minimized,” said Wendy Shama, Social Worker in Hematology/Oncology. “At times they don’t get the chance to their own rites of passages while their families focus on the ill child and struggle with life-threatening issues.  As a result, they can feel a range of emotions from sadness to loneliness, worry, jealousy, and at times fear.”

This year’s event was held on June 7 at The Daniels Hollywood Theatre and attended by children with siblings in the Leukemia/Lymphoma, Solid Tumour, Brain Tumour, Stem Cell Transplantation, Immunology, and Haematology Programs.

A record number of families participated, including 39 siblings between the ages of 3 ½ to 17 years. Altogether, there were 135 participants at the family breakfast, recognition ceremony, lunch and fun fair.

This event, organized and run by the program’s psychosocial staff in collaboration with Camp Oochigeas, offered self-affirming activities that help siblings with their confidence and feelings regarding their experience. Much of the program was focused on strengthening the siblings’ adjustment and re-enforcing their importance and recognition within the family.

Evaluations showed that parents “strongly agreed” with the importance of providing a day for siblings.  

In the words of one family: “As a parent of a toddler going through treatment I can't help but feel as though I'm falling short in some areas of life. The fact that such a day was made available to oncology families shows that SickKids understands the ‘pressure points’ that families experience and is dedicated to relieving and improving our experience as we watch our little ones fight for their lives!”