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Winter 2006 Table of Contents
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Creating STARS Through Friendship

By Sarah Hinds, Sibling, LaPorte, Texas and Elizabeth Madden, Sibling, Alice, Texas

Abstract: Two siblings share what each other's friendship has meant to them and invite other siblings to email them at their newly formed sibling email support group.

Key Words: family, blind, visually impaired, deafblind, sibling support

Mom's Introduction:

STARS, which stands for Siblings Talking, Answering, Reassuring and Supporting, is a sibling email support group created because of a friendship forged between two girls. The purpose is to encourage siblings to connect and share their feelings, frustrations and joys. Just knowing they are not alone can be a tremendous support. The girls have a big dream of starting a sibling support group in Texas and have taken their first step by creating STARS. They are exploring setting up a website so that any sibling in Texas can connect with someone who knows what they are going through. STARS has great potential and with these creative and dedicated young ladies working on it together, they are sure to take their dream far beyond our expectations. If you are interested in joining or want to help Sarah and Elizabeth, you can email them at <txsibstars@yahoo.com>.

Sarah's Dream Comes True

Hi, I'm Sarah Hinds and I created STARS: Siblings Talking, Answering, Reassuring and Supporting. I'm the oldest in my family. I have a brother who is two and a sister who is five. I love being their big sister! My sister is deafblind and multiply disabled. I love my sister, but sometimes I feel left out because everyone is always coming over for "playtime" with my sister (really therapy), and she takes up a lot of my parents' time. There are some good things about being a sibling, like we get to go to fun events like the beeping Easter Egg Hunt and Sibshop. STARS is different than Sibshops because you can be a pen pal with another sibling who doesn't live near you, but you still have a lot in common because of our brothers or sisters. My mother met a girl who had a brother with disabilities too. She was just three days older than me and wrote me a note. I was so excited - finally someone who understands my position. We immediately began emailing and calling each other and have become very good friends. We finally met at the Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas (DBMAT) Family Retreat. We were roommates and did everything together. Every year, I look forward to going to DBMAT so that I can spend time with Elizabeth and other kids who are also siblings. I was very excited to return again this year to DBMAT and see my friend Elizabeth. This summer we went to Rangerette Camp together and learned to do some dances. We also did fun things like swimming. Elizabeth spent a week at my house. When we are not together, we email each other to keep each other up on what is happening. It is fun having a good friend that's just like you. We always have a lot to talk about.

Just like my mom found Elizabeth for me, we want to find siblings that are feeling left out and help them to find a friend forever. Who knows, they might end up helping us.

Elizabeth Joins the STARS Team

Hello, my name is Elizabeth Marie Madden. My brother, John Terry Madden, has many disabilities. He is 12 years old, deafblind, can't talk or walk, has seizures, eats through a G-tube and has developmental delay at a three month old level. We don't get to play together like other brothers and sisters. Every since my parents found out about all those problems, my mom has been going to meetings, family education and state conferences and taking me with her while my dad takes care of John Terry. One of the meetings my mother and I went to was in Austin, Texas. There, we met a lady named Alaine Hinds. She had told us that she had a 9-year-old daughter named Sarah. We are just two days apart! Ms. Hinds suggested I write Sarah and I did. The next thing you know we were writing and calling each other a lot. We kept begging our moms to meet each other so we all set it up to meet at the DBMAT Family Retreat. Since then, every time we had a chance to see each other, we have taken it. So if my mother hadn't taken me to that meeting, Sarah and I wouldn't be friends. This summer, we went to Rangerette Camp in Kilgore, Texas. Sarah and I were roommates in the college girls' dorm. We ate in the cafeteria, learned dances and made new friends, all in four days. On the way back home, Sarah asked if I wanted to stay at her house for a week. I decided to stay, and we had a great time together.

October 2005 was my third trip to Camp John Marc and Sarah's second time. We got to be roommates again, climb a rock wall, slide down a zip line, go fishing and have lots of fun together. We are excited about our new sibling support group. Through email, Sarah and I will be able to stay in touch better and make friends with more brothers and sisters of children with special needs around Texas.

My older brother and sister are 23 and 25 years old. They did not have a chance to make friends with other siblings. Even adult siblings need someone that understands and to talk to. So send us an email to <txsibstars@yahoo.com>.

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010