“There is a certain power created when people of similar life experiences come together around shared issues and are able to support each other.” – Barbara Pandolfi, Peer Support Manager.
The notion of Peer Support is widely acknowledged as a legitimate form of support in our personal lives, as well as in many fields and disciplines. What distinguishes this form of support is that it is provided primarily by peers and mentors.
Here at The Arc, we focus on gifts and talents and look at the person not the impairment. The goal of peer support is to provide people with disabilities access to new and empowering opportunities which give them more choice and control over their life.
Peer Support is funded by the Department of Developmental Services and offers information for people with disabilities to share knowledge and experiences as well as emotional, social and practical help. It also provides a range of opportunities that amplify the voice of self-advocates and promotes more choice, control and responsibility in their lives.
Peer to peer mentorship challenges limiting beliefs often restricting people with disabilities from potential possibilities. It also provides psychological benefits such as increased self-confidence, improved problem solving, decision-making and coping skills. Moreover, it promotes independent and interdependent living skills, as well as information on self-determination and self-direction.
We use the peer support model in several different formats. We have a Peer Support Advisory Committee where members are paid to provide guidance, recommendations, feedback and direction to the program as well as The Arc. This committee meets every other week.
Peer Support offers:
- Paid internships to explore employment opportunities and other areas of interest
- Education and mentorship on leadership, self-advocacy and getting involved in your community
- Trainings to self-advocacy groups, programs and conferences
- An annual celebration every June
As you can see, there is no single ingredient that guarantees success. Outcomes are largely determined by each person’s needs, wants, commitment, and vision. Peer Support can be an invaluable tool in guiding the way. It is important that people are known for their gifts and talents and what they can contribute to the community. For more information contact Barbara Pandolfi at 978-373-0552 x206.
To view pictures of our Annual Celebration this past June please click the following link to our Facebook: Peer Support Pictures.