A Cup of Tea, A Group of Siblings, A Great Deal of Support – All This and More at Alson’s Tea ~ A Day for Siblings
Being the sibling of a younger or older brother or sister with special needs brings with it a unique set of experiences and challenges shared only by other siblings.
Family Support Specialist Edward Perez shares, “Through our sibling support groups, we’ve repeatedly heard from the siblings participating how much they appreciate spending time with other children who know what it’s like to have a sibling with special needs and who share the stresses that can be placed on the other children in a family. And also who understand what it’s like to balance the desire to spend time with their sibling and defend them, with being embarrassed by them and resenting the additional family time devoted to their sibling.”
A sibling herself, Reena Shah, who is co-owner of Chado Tea Rooms, had shared with her business partner Tek Mehreteab on many occasions her desire to do something special related to the developmental disability community. Marty Sweeney, a facilitator of the daDA Fathers Support Group, who along with his daughter Eva are frequent customers of Chado Pasadena, was approached by Mehreteab and out of the pairing of the ideas of combining tea with doing something special for siblings, “Alson’s Tea ~ A Day for Siblings” was conceived. Shah says, “It was a dream, a passion, something that I really wanted to do, I always wanted to give something back through my business.”
Hosted by Chado Tea Rooms, in partnership with the Koch-Young Resource Center, daDA Fathers Support Group and Pasadena Child Development Associates, the tea was held the day before Valentine’s Day at Chado Downtown located inside the Japanese American National Museum. The event, named in honor of Shah’s brother Alson, recognized and celebrated siblings’ contributions in the lives of their brothers and sisters with special needs. Alson, who passed away seven years ago, was diagnosed with developmental disabilities after suffering brain damage from a fall he experienced when he was 3 years old.
Shah shares, “My brother was the biggest inspiration in my life. He helped me to see that people with disabilities were normal, regular human beings, and that no one should be treated differently, yet it was always a challenge to prove to other people that he was just like everyone else. He loved drawing and the Marvel Superheroes, sports with the Special Olympics, and just being around people, and I loved to take him places and wheel him around, show everyone that he’s a normal human being, that he didn’t always have to be isolated.”
Shah shared her personal story of her own experience as a sibling and her relationship with her brother, as did Dr. Leslie Richard, with the over 30 siblings between the ages of 6 to 12 in attendance. Melinda Martinez, a therapist with Pasadena Child Development Associates, shared with the guests why sibling support – for both younger and older siblings – is so important.
Shah adds, “As a sibling you have to sacrifice a lot, you have to give up your toys, your time, and your social life, while trying to help your parents with your sibling. In my opinion this makes you a stronger person later on in life. You are more sensitive to the needs of others, and you are much better able to appreciate good health and life.”
Following the speakers, the guests were treated to a proper afternoon high tea including scones, tea sandwiches and desserts. During tea time, siblings participated in table activities that were facilitated by adult siblings and therapists. The afternoon concluded with an opportunity for the younger siblings to share their thoughts and experiences as siblings.
Shah shares, “Just don’t give up, in life, we all need help, live life normally, if you have a dream, capture your dream, include your sibling in your dream, they are the biggest blessing that you’ll get in your life. Do your part to make them happy, we’re blessed to have them, we were chosen by God to be siblings. Not everyone has the ability to be patient, kind and caring.”
As part of the partnership and to continue the focus on siblings’ needs and sibling support, “Alson’s Tea ~ A Day for Siblings” will be held twice per year to honor and recognize the contributions of siblings with brothers and sisters with special needs.
In addition to the tea events, Chado Tea Rooms has introduced a new tea called Alson’s Tea, which is a white tea infused with champagne and raspberry flavors. The proceeds from the sale of this tea will be used to benefit sibling support programs and activities, including those offered by Lanterman Regional Center through its partnership with Pasadena Child Development Associates.
For more information about Chado Tea Rooms, visit www.chadotea.com.