Support from peers or those who have overcome the challenges of living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) can be an important component to a person’s recovery.
Mentors can help people living with SCI re-evaluate their life/career goals and tackle day-to-day challenges.
The goal of United Spinal’s Peer Mentor Training Program is to show prospective mentors the best ways to help newly injured individuals discover paths to greater health, independence, and well-being.
To achieve this, United Spinal is collaborating with hospitals, rehab facilities, community–based organizations, and our chapters and support groups across the country to offer training sessions to people interested in mentoring and making a difference in the lives of their peers.
The 4-hour training was led by Lindsey Elliott, MSW, a social worker at United Spinal. During her time with the organization, Elliott has brought new strength and hope to many people living with SCI and their family members.
“It’s an amazing experience for me to work with individuals with a spinal cord injury who not only have successfully reintegrated back into their communities but have expressed a willingness to become mentors to others,” says Elliott.
“Our training program impacts many lives in different ways, but its most important influence is the unparalleled first-hand knowledge and guidance that newly injured individuals are able to receive from their role-model mentors. I am very excited to be a part of this program and look forward to doing many more trainings in the future,” adds Elliott
The training––which included role-playing and group discussions––focused on how to develop critical mentoring skills such as self-management, goal-setting and problem-solving skills, and effective communication. Participants were also offered tips on establishing an effective peer mentoring program from scratch.
“When I got injured in 2003, there was no support group. I just felt lost and longed to have someone to talk to that knew what I was going through. I think this program is a momentous step forward and will be very beneficial for the peer, mentors, and all involved,” says participant Libby Braswell
“It was very beneficial to be in a training session with such a vast array of people, all kinds of people from different walks of life yet we all ended up at the same point. I got a lot from the role playing and the comments of others. It helps to see a different perspective other than your own. The group discussions helped me to see how others may handle a situation different than I,” explains Braswell.