The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Brooks Rehabilitation have partnered to provide a Peer Family Support Program (PFSP). The goal of the partnership is to expand mentoring across the state of Florida and the Southeast region. The PFSP is a national peer-to-peer mentoring program that utilizes the real life experiences of those that are thriving while living with paralysis.
About the Program
This program matches people seeking assistance with a certified mentor who will be of similar age, gender, level of injury, ethnicity, and location, when possible. Throughout the process both the client and the mentor will have access to all of the resources the Reeve Foundation’s Paralysis Resource Center has to offer.
“We are incredibly excited about our partnership with Brooks and confident that together, this program will help to reach the broader paralysis community,” said Joseph Canose, Senior Vice President, Quality of Life for the Reeve Foundation. “Brooks already has a well-established and well-respected peer mentor program. By bringing their expertise to our national program, we can provide the best resources and knowledge available.”
Steve Kenny, living with a C5/C6 spinal cord injury from a 1993 diving accident, is the head coach of Brooks Adaptive Sports quad rugby team and a certified peer mentor. For the past eight years, he has been mentoring individuals with recent spinal cord injuries as a volunteer at Brooks. Since becoming a Certified Mentor for the PFSP, Kenny and other Reeve Foundation and Brooks mentors continually seek opportunities to help individuals.
“I recall helping an individual with a high-level spinal cord injury that was still in intensive care at a trauma center in Jacksonville,” recalls Kenny of his guidance to a 23-year-old father. “He had requested a DNR [do not resuscitate]. His mother was overwhelmed. I spoke with him and his mom and showed them how I live a full and happy life. The next day the DNR was removed and they decided to proceed with treatment.”
Since then, with Kenny’s ongoing mentorship, the patient has progressed to outpatient therapy and has joined the Brooks Rehabilitation Neuro Recovery Center, a specialized day-gym program that allows caregivers and patients to continue independent physical activity and strengthening. This is just one example of how a Certified Mentor can greatly impact lives.
The program is actively recruiting new clients: people living with paralysis, family members, and caregivers who are in need of guidance by a Certified Mentor. The benefits of talking to a Certified Mentor include a clear understanding of the realities of paralysis, how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, confidence building and motivation, understanding of the science and progress in research of paralysis, how to avoid secondary conditions, and more.
For more information, please contact Jennifer Guss, our Volunteer Services Coordinator [email protected] or visit ChristopherReeve.org/peer or call (800) 225-0292.