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Meet Jeniece Stewart of Special Needs Siblings

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeniece Stewart.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jeniece. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
Simply speaking Special Needs Siblings began with my children. I am special needs mother of 5 beautiful souls. My eldest son has autism and epilepsy, and his siblings accompany him on a lifelong journey.

One day my second oldest son Caleb had a game, and he made this amazing shot! He looked for me, and I had missed it. I missed this big moment in his life because his older brother Christian was having a meltdown that I needed to assist with. Caleb understood why, but it did not heal the pain. He was hurting.

Another instance happened with my daughter, Jada, and her feeling let down. I was supposed to join her on a school field trip, but I got a call from Christian school he had a seizure… so I could not go. She understood why I could not be there, but she still felt devastated. With these moments continually occurring I felt like I needed to do more for them… but I did not know where to start.

This began a beautiful grassroots movement about simply supporting the siblings. I desired to connect with other siblings to learn more about their experiences of being a sibling of a disabled individual. Unfortunately, I found the community and assistance for the siblings in these families was scarce. Many disabled families had multiple children, but the resources for the special needs siblings were little to none. So I made a choice to make a change.

I began an Instagram account and Facebook page. I started to use the hashtag #SpecialNeedsSiblings and asked parents to share their experiences. I encouraged parents and siblings to celebrate the siblings of the family, who at times were more like silent partners.

I empowered parents to look into the mirror and ask tough questions while encouraging them to forgive themselves and start fresh! Now, I truly wish I had begun sooner, but better late than never!

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a bumpy ride. Now, I wish I could say my motherhood journey has always been such a joy and I live every day to the fullest with my crew. But then I would be lying… I would be hiding behind a mask … What mask would that be? The plastered smile. The infamous, “everything is fine, I am okay!” The “stay strong because you cannot afford to look weak.”

Those vulnerable moments you hope no one sees, but creep their way into your head and heart. I have struggled with self-doubt and closed doors. I have lost friendships along the way simply because I refuse to allow anyone to come between my relationships with my children. I have struggled with unemployment and maintaining a career while having to raise a child that requires multiple appointments a week.

This journey to begin a non-profit to raise awareness and support for the siblings has seen frustrations and tears. But every connection I have made and every comment I have read bring such a light to a former dark place. I felt like I had hit rock bottom after being laid off. I started this movement, but I had no idea it would grow into such a beautiful call to action.

I would tell myself that just because your dreams change does not mean you quit… it means you have grown. Change is to be welcomed and embraced. Dreams are not concrete — they are clay. They are to be molded and sculpted into your own masterpiece.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Special Needs Siblings – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Special Needs Siblings, Inc.’s mission is to educate, empower, and engage the parents and siblings within the special needs families by providing resources and support programs.

Special Needs Siblings, Inc. will assist individuals with information regarding resources available to them. We will provide a place of community by bringing awareness to the families by bridging the gap between the siblings.

Youth Programs: Special Needs Siblings, Inc. expands their vision & ownership of their future by offering opportunities for youth engagement collaboration, training, exposure, business modeling, entrepreneurship, servant-leadership development, enhancing their mindset of leadership & encouraging better relationships with parents, serve as a resource for youth achieving knowledge & access to resources for higher education.

Parenting Resources: Special Needs Siblings, Inc. will be equipping & supporting parents with special needs siblings. It will be providing information, sharing resources available, building a network to engage and share information with the local community training parents how to effectively advocate on behalf of their children within the disabled families.

We became a nonprofit in Georgia this year, and are extremely proud of that step. Our desire is to open a center where we can connect and educate families on the important role of the special needs sibling. Siblings are there through the appointments, the tears, the joys, and often become the caregivers after their parents have passed.

It is crucial to build strong siblings who enter adulthood on a solid foundation. It is imperative to give siblings the opportunity to be themselves and acknowledge them even in the busyness of our everyday lives. We have grown from 0 followers to 20K in 2 years with connections around the world. Special Needs Siblings transcends every group, every nationality, every class, every race… siblings are the unsung heroes.

Although we are still being established, we are proud to be an official nonprofit in Georgia as of 2018! We are also very grateful to be growing at a consistent rate. Our social media presence is strong, and our desire to plant a home base in Georgia is our next step!

Local programs include:
Siblings 4 Life Gwinnett – Youth, Teen, Adult – Sibling support group.
Imperfectly Proud Parenting – A workshop series for parents and caregivers

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the diversity. I was raised in Gwinnett County. For me to turn around and make a difference in the same community I was raised in is both exciting and humbling. I look at every connection I make as a gift. I am blessed to be able to be surrounded by so many different cultures, stories, and backgrounds.

Least has to be the traffic! Our traffic is terrible. lol

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. DeLisa Smith

    October 17, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    Amazingly beautiful!! I’m such a knuckle head..😳…It just hit me that my oldest sister…she’s 73, has a similar situation…she adopted four siblings, nephews Elijah, Jeremiah and Isaiah (my nephew who suffered a stroke as a baby and has limited use of the right side of his body and who also suffers from debilitating seizures)and my niece Chasity. A huge part of my move back to Valdosta was so that I could help my sister with the kiddos. We have a large family and it really takes all of us to help out and pitch in especially with Isaiah having multiple appointments..some of which take my sister and he out of town for several days at a time. I love what you are doing and I hope that some day every community will have access to resources such as the Special Needs Siblings, Inc!

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