by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”Kaneland Middle School eighth-grader Julia Hoyda has a 16-year-old brother, Matt, who has autism, behavior problems, a rare seizure disorder and developmental delays. The 13-year-old Sugar Grove resident helps out by working with Matt at home, teaching him how to do chores, playing and interacting with him, and stepping in when he is butting heads with his parents, her mom Cathy said.
Julia loves her brother. She said there is a special bond between them, and they are like friends who can’t be separated. She also feels that she would not be the person she is today without a brother like Matt, who requires a lot of attention, and because of him, she has learned how to handle a number of different situations.
However, there can be stressful times, when for weeks, it seems that there is a doctor’s appointment every other day. During those times, she said it feels like a lot of work and her needs take a back seat when most of the attention is focused on Matt.
Julia has often said she wanted to go with her mom to her meetings or retreats with Parents as Advocates, a mothers group for moms with children with disabilities. The moms get together and share ideas, as well as take some time for themselves to recharge and gain a fresh perspective on life. But because the get-togethers are strictly for moms, Julia came up with the idea to plan one of her own for siblings.
Sibling’s Fun Day will take place on Saturday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Keeler Pool in Aurora. Siblings of children with disabilities are invited to come and take a break with Julia and others, taking part in activities such as swimming, volleyball and other sports, cooking, games and more.
Julia has tied the planning and organizing of the event to her Girl Scout activities, and she will receive a Girl Scout Silver Award for the project.
â€œIt’s a unique project,â€ said Sandy McKinney, Julia’s Girl Scout leader. â€œJulia chose a subject that is near and dear to her heart, because of her handicapped brother.â€
McKinney likes to encourage the girls in her troop to do something that will cause them to step out of their comfort zone. She feels that this project will do that for Julia, as it will require leadership skills to delegate tasks to others before and during the day.
Although McKinney will be on hand to assist her during the day, it will be up to Julia to ensure that the event goes smoothly.
Julia said she hopes it will be a fun day for everyone who attends. She knows first-hand that siblings of children with disabilities are the ones who are always there to help out.
â€œSome days my brother can get annoying,â€ she admitted.
She knows that there are other young people out there like her who could use some time for themselves and who need a break.
She has planned some high energy games, and they will have the use of the open gym as well as the swimming pool. Lunch will be pizza, and the participants will cook some type of dessert for themselves.
â€œIt will be a very busy day,â€ she said.
Siblings’ Fun Day
An exciting day for the siblings of
children with disabilities to take a
break. Lunch will be provided
Ages: 9-15 years old
April 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
309 W. New Indian Trail Court,
RSVP by April 3: Contact Julia Hoyda, Cadette in Girl Scout Troop 4468
(630) 466-0025 or firstname.lastname@example.org