Peer Support Group
by Guest Editor Michelle P., Independent Living Specialist at Disability Action Center NW
When working with people or even just answering calls, I noticed there was a desperate need for people with a disability to meet other people with the same disability. Being paralyzed is helpful for peer support but I cannot relate to somebody else’s disability in j the same way that I can relate to my own. What many people want is a peer who can understand what they are going through and find solutions peer by listening to how they personally handle similar situations.
I started hooking up peers together and saw how happy each person was and how it was changing their lives just by knowing each other. People who seemed anxious and depressed now seemed happy and filled with life and hope. So naturally, the next step seemed to be gathering DAC consumers and I&R’s and make a list to invite them to a peer group. I called and almost everyone was interested. So this May the first group meeting took place at the Disability Action Center parking lot – because there were so many wheelchairs we all couldn’t properly fit in our building!
Luckily a friend of mine, who is a quadriplegic, brought his Quadtools Grabber because he cannot grasp items. He can use the Grabber, flex his wrist and pick up items. His grabber was a huge success with everyone, many of whom have MS and haven’t picked up items in years. It was pretty cool to see.
Many people heard about this group and it looks like at only our second meeting this month the group might double! Even someone who has depression asked if they could come to the next meeting as they were really excited to help assist us. This person can help. Everyone can help.
It’s a work in progress but the goal is for this to be a peer run group. Currently there is a little assistance from DAC staff because the group isn’t completely independent. Of course, at DAC our motto is Independence is Our Goal so I’m sure we’ll get there soon. We already outgrew the Disability Action Center parking lot in just one month. So, our next meeting will be at the Post Falls Dam. Our meetings are always the 2nd Thursday of every month at 12:00 noon. Bring water, a snack, and any great ideas and technology that make your life easier because it will probably help make our lives easier too!