The Reeve Foundation 's Peer & Family Support Program
SHORT HILLS, N.J., July 31, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's Peer & Family Support Program provides free peer-to-peer mentoring for people living with paralysis including veterans, their family members and caregivers. Built upon the belief that the best source of knowledge is experience, the program offers support, guidance and assistance by locating resources through a nationwide network of over 350 peer mentors. These trained and certified mentors understand the daily realities and long-term challenges of living with paralysis or caring for someone living with paralysis and they empower their peers (people who are receiving mentoring) to lead independent, active and fulfilling lives. To date, the program has helped 9,964 peers.
The Peer & Family Support Program provides mentoring to individuals who are newly injured as they begin to navigate their changing world as well as those who have been living with paralysis for 5, 10, or 20+ years and are experiencing life transitions. Recognizing the needs of family members, the program also offers mentoring that addresses the challenges of caregiving. The program maintains a peer-centered focus with peers determining the frequency of meetings with their mentor, topics of discussion and how they will communicate (in person or by phone, email, text or video chat). The peer/mentor relationship is private and confidential.
The program's mentors have all been living with paralysis or caring for a loved one with paralysis for at least a year to ensure that they have the experience to provide support and knowledge to others. They offer guidance and perspective on a wide variety of topics such as selecting a rehabilitation center, managing secondary conditions, maintaining relationships, and provide tips and tricks to their peers to make living with paralysis or being a caregiver less stressful and more manageable.
"Dealing with a spinal cord injury isn't easy; it puts your mind and body through a test. Trying to figure things out for yourself isn't impossible, but why do it alone? That's exactly what I did in the beginning. Once I began to talk to my peers, I realized that I could live a productive life with a spinal cord injury. I decided that I wanted to make a difference for the next person. I wanted to be there for those who needed to talk about the difficulties of living with a spinal cord injury. I also wanted to assist by providing resources. I love helping people overcome the obstacles they've encountered while dealing with an injury," said Michael, 44, mentor living with a spinal cord injury for 11 years.
The Benefits of Having a Mentor
The benefits of mentoring for people living with paralysis and their family members are many and can be life-changing. Through the mentoring relationship, peers may reduce feelings of isolation, improve their outlook on life with paralysis and optimism about the future, increase confidence and motivation and enhance their quality of life. Mentoring can also help peers to live more independently by setting and achieving goals such as increasing their knowledge of living with paralysis and available resources, going back to work or school and re-engaging in their community.
To request a mentor, you can either complete an online form (https://www.christopherreeve.org/peer) or call the Reeve Foundation at 1-800-539-7309. A program coordinator will respond to the request via phone call or email and make a peer/mentor match based on level and cause of injury or paralysis, age and gender. To meet some of the program's peers and mentors and learn about the impact of mentoring on their lives, please visit the Reeve Foundation's YouTube channel.