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National Siblings Day — April 10th

April 10th National Sibling Day The Arc Amplified

A Celebration of Siblings on National Siblings Day — April 10th

 

Let’s hear it for our SIBS!! On April 10th, we celebrate National Siblings Day!

According to the Siblings Day Foundation, “Siblings Day follows the spirit of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, an uplifting celebration honoring people who have helped in our development and who have shaped our values, beliefs, and ideals.”

At The Arc of Snohomish County, we celebrate siblings every day! Through our Sibshops program, we support kids and teens, ages 8 through 18, who have a sibling with a developmental disability. The concept of Sibshops was founded through the work of the Sibling Support Project, a national program “dedicated to the life-long and ever-changing concerns of millions of brothers and sisters of people with special health, developmental, and mental health concerns.” (Learn more about the Sibling Support Project at siblingsupport.org.)

 

The Arc of Snohomish County currently offers Sibshops for siblings ages 8 to 12 and a Teen Sib program for youth ages 13 to 18. For information about upcoming Sibshops, visit our online event calendar at arcsno.org/calendar.

Additional support and resources for the siblings of children with disabilities can be found on the Sibling Leadership Network website: siblingleadership.org; and in the books and publications of the Sibling Support Project: siblingsupport.org/publications.

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her four-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

Weekly Goal Setting for Self-Care:

62. Self Care Weekly Goal Setting The Arc Amplified

Weekly Goal Setting for Self-Care:

Aim for Small Wins!

 

As caregivers, we instinctually understand the importance of self-care.

We know how important it is to take care of ourselves. We may often hear phrases like “caregiver fatigue” and “caregiver burnout” from our children’s (or our own) care providers. The exhaustion of caregiving can feel relentless at times. The responsibility can feel so heavy, and, in those moments, we all know it!

Self-care, self-care, self-care… You know you need it! Of course you need it! And yet…

Everyone talks about self-care. It is an important topic for family caregivers. Self-care is essential in order for us to show up every day as our best selves — for ourselves, certainly, but also for our families, our kids, our partners and our communities.

And yet… For family caregivers, conversations around self-care always circle back to one, single issue: time.

It always comes back to finding the time for self-care, because…

How do you find time for self-care when caregiving alone keeps you running through your day?

How do you carve out time to prioritize your needs when you are responsible for meeting the needs of your children?

But, the answer is also just that: Time.

That is, we  — as family caregivers — must find the time!

We must carve out moments to take care of ourselves.

And we all know this, too, but HOW??? How do you do it?!

You continually remind yourself that self-care is essential care.

You create a self-care mantra for yourself that you repeat over and over and over again until it sticks.

You set timers and daily calendar events for self-care because it should be a part of your day, every single day.

You discover whatever it is that works for you.

And then, you do it because self-care is really that important.

Start small! The goal, after all, is to establish a practice of continuous self-care that is sustainable and consistent over time. Caregiving is a long game, after all! (Click here for a previous blog post on the topic: “Creating a Self-Care Strategy in Three Steps”)

Another way to begin the practice of prioritizing self-care is to commit to one or two acts of self-care each day. In no way must these acts come anything close to grand gestures of self-love. Small — start small! These can be simple acts such as carving out time for a nightly skin care routine before bed or sitting outside by yourself for five minutes each afternoon before making lunch for the kids.

Simple acts of self-care.

That is the starting goal.

Here is a weekly self-care focused calendar to get your started.

Self Care Goals Weekly Calendar

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her four-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

If Joy is Medicine for the Soul, “Laughter Yoga” Could be the Prescription

Laughter Yoga Benefits Event Recap The Arc Amplified

If Joy is Medicine for the Soul, “Laughter Yoga” Could be the Prescription

 

The Arc of Snohomish County welcomed Laughter Ambassador Julie Schreiber to lead a special “My Sib & Me” event, open to all Sibshop families, on Tuesday, March 22nd.

Julie is a Laughter Yoga Teacher, who received her certification in the practice in 2014, when she traveled to Bangalore, India, to train under Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga International. Julie also has a Master’s degree in Counseling from Antioch University and is now owner and founder of Connecting the Peaces, LLC, located in Issaquah. Today, Julie teaches Laughter Yoga classes, facilitates trainings and leads workshops for corporate events, nonprofit organizations and schools. (Click here to read the story of how Julie first learned about Laughter Yoga.)

What is “Laughter Yoga,” you ask? Laughter Yoga is an activity that uses laughter as an exercise to achieve health benefits. Different than the type of laughter evoked through humor, Laughter Yoga involves a practice of prolonging the type of loud and deep laughter that emanates from the diaphragm, for no comedic reason at all. You laugh simply to laugh! That laughter may then be combined with Yoga breathing exercises. Laughter Yoga sessions and social clubs, located in countries around the world, provide a safe environment where it is acceptable to laugh loudly and without restraint. (Click here to learn more about Laughter Yoga.)

 

What are the benefits of Laughter Yoga? Scientific studies show that laughter is beneficial to our health! It brings more oxygen into the blood and reduces stress. It increases endorphins and makes you feel better. It deepens breathing and can strengthen the immune system. Hearty laughter is similar to aerobic exercise. Sounds good, right?!

Learn more about Laughter Yoga with Julie at connectingthepeaces.com, or on her Facebook page: Laughing with Julie.

 

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her four-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Child Abuse Prevention Month 2022 The Arc Amplified 1

Wear Blue on April 1st for Child Abuse Prevention Month

 

The month of April is recognized nationally as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Child Abuse Prevention Month is an annual observance for education and awareness raising around issues of child abuse prevalence and prevention. Informational events are typically held throughout the month of April and many organizations get involved.

Wear Blue on April 1stOne way to help raise awareness is to participate in Wear Blue Day on Friday, April 1st. Wear your favorite blue outfit, snap a photo, and share on social media using the hashtag #WearBlueDay2022. Click here for ready-made social media posts from the national nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse America.

Prevent Child Abuse America is also hosting a Digital Advocacy Day on Wednesday, April 27th. Click here if you are interested in learning more about digital advocacy and how to participate.

The symbol for Child Abuse Prevention Month is the pinwheel.

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) shared that, this year, on March 31st, thousands of blue and silver pinwheels will be planted on the grounds of the state capitol building in Olympia, as part of a national “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign. Additionally, close to 15,000 pinwheels were distributed to organizations across the state to support their awareness programs.

Child abuse prevention programs are particularly important within the disability community as individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are significantly more likely to experience abuse than people without disabilities. Click here to access a Resource Guide, created by The Arc of Spokane’s Sexual Abuse Awareness & Response Program, designed to support children, teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Additional Materials & Resources for Kids:

  • WA DCYF “Protective Factors” coloring book: com/4vehjj8w
  • WA DCYF annual “Child Abuse Prevention” coloring page: com/9632k4cw

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her four-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

5 Ways to Make Easter Egg Hunts More Inclusive

Inclusive Easter Egg Hunts The Arc Amplified

5 Ways to Make Easter Egg Hunts More Inclusive

 

Each year, as the Easter holiday nears, popular stories and memes make their way around social media, describing ways that organizations or individual families have adapted their annual Easter egg hunts for greater accessibility and inclusion.

It is always fun to see on display the creativity and outside-the-box thinking of family caregivers and those community leaders dedicated to ensuring that everyone has a chance to participate in public events.

Some of these ideas include attaching helium-filled balloons to eggs, so wheelchair users can participate by grasping the strings of the balloons from their seated position. (If you are part of an organization that would like to recreate this idea: Consider using Mylar balloons rather than traditional party balloons as rubber balloons pose a health risk for children with latex allergies.) There have been stories shared about using beeping or light-up eggs to make egg hunts more inclusive for children with low-vision. Additionally, sensory-Friendly egg hunts can support kids and families who prefer calmer environments. (Click here for even more ideas!)

Here are additional steps that organizations can take to make their upcoming Easter egg hunts more inclusive:

1.  Utilize a variety of surfacing

When marking the boundaries of your Egg hunt, identify a space that includes a variety of ground surfacing such as ample sidewalk space and areas with solid ground surfacing, in addition to the usual grassy fields. It can be difficult for children who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids to participate in activities that take place in grass or areas with loose ground material like gravel or sand.

2.  Hide eggs at varying heights

Children who are wheelchair users will have a difficult time participating in an egg hunt where all the eggs are placed at ground-level. Other children with disabilities, for a variety of reasons, may also find it challenging to reach for such low set items. Instead, identify a location for your Easter egg hunt that allows eggs to be placed at different heights. For example, include a playground area or draw your boundaries to meet the outside walls of an adjacent building, with all it nooks and crannies. (Remember that access to these spaces should also be accessible with ramps, curb-cuts and/or paths made of hard ground surfacing.)

3.  Establish adaptive categories for participation

For large egg hunts, dividing participants into traditional age categories can prove problematic. This inevitably places some children with disabilities at a distinct disadvantage as they must contend with various barriers to access between themselves and the eggs they wish to collect. Fun, community activities, like Easter egg hunts, should be designed in a way that creates an equitable opportunity for participation by all involved. Creating a category of adaptive participation, or establishing participation categories based on level of self-selected “competitiveness” can make the event more fun for everyone. For example, participation categories could include: a “Just for Fun” walking-and-rolling category versus a more competitive “Egg Hunts Are My Business” category.

4.  Offer non-food prize alternatives

Some children cannot eat by mouth and others cannot eat certain types of food items, which may include your traditional marshmallow bunnies and Cadbury eggs. It is always a good idea to offer non-food prize items at public events. Luckily, there are many options that fit perfectly inside of plastic eggs. Items to consider: stickers, temporary tattoos, small stamps, small figurines or finger puppets. (Click here for a list of “40 Egg-cellent, Non-candy Easter Egg Fillers”)

5.   Provide ample seating for both participants and their family members

Providing quality seating (and enough of it!) at public events is an important consideration for accessibility and inclusion. Parents and grandparents love to cheer their little ones on as they go on the hunt to fill their basket with Easter eggs. To accommodate the needs of all participants, identify a space that offers built-in seating, such as park benches and ADA-Compliant picnic tables, or consider how additional seating can be provided. Such accommodations support the needs of children who require time to sit and rest after the exertion of physical activity, as well as other family members with disabilities or individuals who require restful spaces.

Here is wishing all who celebrate a very Happy Easter and a successful egg hunting season! May the bunny be always on your side!

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her four-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

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