Welcome to the Sibling Leadership Network!

Greetings siblings and allies!

Welcome to the Sibling Leadership Network Listserv-

We are excited to offer this listserv as a catalyst to link different siblings, self-advocates, researchers, and professionals who are interested in building a network of sibling leaders and advocates across the United States.

The Sibling Leadership Network (SLN) is an organization of adult siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities dedicated to promoting family support and empowerment for people with disabilities, their siblings and families across the lifespan. The SLN consists of siblings from across the United States and abroad who unite through technology and meetings to identify and address the needs and goals of sibs. The SLN develops yearly action plans to advise family policy initiatives and to enhance the program offerings of service providers.

The mission of the Sibling Leadership Network is to provide siblings of individuals with disabilities the information, support and tools to advocate for their brothers and sisters and to promote the issues important to them and their entire families.

The purpose of the Sibling Leadership Network is to promote a broad network of siblings who share the experience of disability and to connect them to social, emotional, governmental and provisional supports across the lifespan to enable them to be effective advocates for their brothers and sisters.

Core Values:

As members of the Sibling Leadership Network:

•We believe that individuals with developmental disabilities have the same rights as all members of society to dignity, respect and the opportunity to grow and to be productive members of their communities.

•We believe that the siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities, many of whom will share the longest life-relationship with their brothers and sisters, can have a powerful, positive impact on their siblings' experiences.

•We believe that the brothers and sisters of individuals with developmental disabilities are uniquely positioned to help ensure the present and future care of their siblings, and we strive to achieve this in partnership with service and support organizations as well as government agencies.

•We are committed to promoting the rights of our brothers and sisters, and of all individuals with developmental disabilities. We are committed to advocating for policies and services that meet their needs.

•We believe that siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities often share similar experiences and concerns and can be of great support to one another to enhance both our lives and the lives of our siblings.

The Sibling Leadership Network (SLN for short) is currently maintained by sibling professionals with the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It is our belief that brothers and sisters represent one more important piece of the puzzle for advocating for the rights of people with disabilities.

We envision this list serving primarily to:

1. provide updates on the activities of the Sibling Leadership Network
2. provide input on what policy issues the sibling leadership network should be focusing on
3. announce upcoming sibling-related events
4. discuss how to better advocate with/for people with disabilities
5. support sibling research efforts

We hope you find this list helpful in the future. We also encourage all of you to check in and let us know what you are doing with/for siblings in your area. What is going on in your area? What do you foresee as being central issues for siblings that you are in contact with? What have been some of the central barriers in getting siblings more involved? What policies do we need to be thinking about to support families and, in particular, siblings?

So, a few quick housekeeping issues- please consider the following guidelines when posting:

1. Please feel free to post announcements about sibling related events in your area; we want others to know about what is going on in different states so we can foster discussion about what models work best for these events. Also feel free to ask questions to this list if you are interested in starting a sibling event in your area!
2. Please feel free to post information about Self-Advocacy and related events in your area. It is important that we as siblings are aware of what our brothers and sisters are advocating for.
3. Discussions of policy issues that are important to siblings are welcomed and encouraged. We believe that siblings are the next generation of advocate allies of people with disabilities- but they need to know what policies affect them and their brothers and sisters!
4. Please post using clear and concise language. Please refrain from using acronyms if at all possible, unless you first spell them out as I did in this email for the Sibling Leadership Network.
5. The purpose of this network is primarily to inform sibling leaders about what is going on in different states pertaining to sibling events and policy concerns. If you know of siblings who are looking for support, please consider directing them to Sibnet@yahoogroups.com. Sibnet is a wonderful and established base of siblings for brothers and sisters to connect with. It's a great first place to start for many siblings.

Thank you very much and we will be announcing some upcoming events very shortly. There is much to discuss!

Sincerely,

John Kramer, M.A.
Tamar Heller, Ph.D.
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities
Chicago, IL 60608

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