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Teenagers who care for sick or disabled loved ones granted morning off

Posted at 7:25 PM, Jul 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-26 19:25:49-04

Hidden heroes, teen caregivers, often spend hours every week taking care of their family members, making sacrifices in their personal lives, without any sort of recognition.

"The kids do everything that an adult family caregiver would do," said Connie Siskowski, who founded the American Association of Caregiving Youth.

On Thursday, The Rotary Club and Edgewater at Boca Pointe wanted to give those teenagers a few hours to break away from their responsibilities and just be kids. They hosted a back to school party for about 40 teenagers who are members of the American Association of Caregiving Youth, which serves 25 middle and high schools in Palm Beach County.

“It’s really an acknowledgment because they need affirmation and validation to let them know that they’re doing a good job," Siskowski said.

“What they do is unbelievable," said Rosemary Krieger, who volunteered at the event Thursday.

The American Association of Caregiving Youth has more than 600 members. 16-year-old Julianna Doran is one of them. She cares for her 12-year-old brother Joshua, who was born prematurely and was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

"We're all caring for someone and it takes time out of our lives, but it doesn't really matter. We're still doing it because not we have to, but we want to," Julianna said.

Each teenager provides at least one daily task for a loved one and spends more than 20 hours a week caring for them. 

While those responsibilities can be difficult for teenagers, Julianna said she can't imagine her life any other way and she treasures her time with her brother.

"We laugh so hard all the time and have fun," Julianna said.