My name is Rachel, and I am a young caregiver.
I am caring for my brother who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. He is two years older than me, so in theory, I have always cared for him.
When I was younger, I mainly helped him by getting him his toys, but now my caring responsibilities involve pushing him around in his wheelchair, help carrying him up the stairs in inaccessible places, helping him with things he can’t get and translating for him as his speech isn’t always clear to other people. One thing I’ve realized as I got older, is that the caregiving responsibilities are constant and never-ending.
The toughest part of being a young caregiver is not the physical challenges. It is the mental ones. When something happens to him, I get scared, I feel bad for him, and I worry about him. And when there is something he can’t do, I will sometimes not do it too because I feel bad for him.
Often, I find it hard balancing having time to myself and caring for him. That’s where Powerhouse makes a difference for me. I use it as a space to get a break and to be at a place where it’s just about me. The lack of getting a break when I’m at home became quite clear during COVID where I had to do home school for a while. It was really tough because it felt like I never got a break. Attending powerhouse activities during COVID was nice and they taught me ways to take a break even though I was home and in theory able to help out all the time.
It also just means a lot to me that there is a place to meet other young caregivers. It’s nice being able to go to a place and have fun with other kids I have this in common with, someone who understands me on a deeper level than other peers.
One of the positive things about being a young caregiver is that it makes me feel important. Another is that it has given me the chance to have a unique and close relationship with my brother. It has also helped me understand that there are people around me who need more care than others. I think it’s helped me realize that helping other people with small things can make a big impact on their life.
“The toughest thing about being a young caregiver is that it’s constant.”
– Rachel, 14 Years Old, Caring for her brother