Congratulations to our Peer Advocacy Graduates!

Posted on 7/23/2010 by The Bridge

We are very proud of our graduates! From left to right, Deborah Jeffries, Alex Williams, Karen Frazier.

At the end of June, three members of The Bridge Peer-to-Peer Program graduated from the New York/Westchester/Rockland Advocacy Coalition (NYWRAC) Peer Advocacy Training Program in Mt. Vernon, NY. For 10 weeks our peers traveled to Mt. Vernon to complete 72 hours of classroom studies where they learned about mental health advocacy, the mental health system and heard stories about recovery from other peers.

Building on a highly successful Peer Recovery Project in 2007 in which two Bridge mental health consumers worked as peer facilitators in our Continuing Day Treatment Program (CDT), The Bridge established the Peer-to-Peer Group as part of the CDT program. Peer-to-Peer provides Bridge clients with information about peer advocacy including negotiating skills, listening skills and techniques to enhance communication. Angela Cerio, an advocacy specialist and Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner, facilitates the group with Rochelle Eisner, a CDT Team Leader.

The Bridge Peer to Peer Group with Rochelle Eisner (left) and Angela Cerio (right).

To further their understanding of peer advocacy, Angela presented the group with information about the NYWRAC Peer Advocacy Training program in Mt. Vernon. Karen Frazier, Deborah Jefferies and Alex Williams were the first three peers to sign up and complete the training. Every week the peers would return to The Bridge and share what they learned with the members of the Peer to Peer Group.

“I not only learned how to advocate for myself, but for my peers – to help them get the services they deserve and have a right to,” stated Karen Frazier. Karen was inspired to become a peer advocate from her experiences in hospitals where she saw her peers underrepresented. After completing NYWRAC training, Karen has started a group out of her Bridge residence, ‘Positive Talk’ where peers can discuss their positive experiences with the system and their recovery.

Deborah Jeffries was interested in a job in social work and was encouraged by Angela and Rochelle to participate in the program. “My favorite part about training was listening to people’s stories about how they survived and thrived in the mental health system,” she stated. Alex Williams, the third person to complete the training program, simply “wanted to do more” as a consumer.

Now that the peers have completed their classroom hours, they are going to intern at The Bridge. Upon completing their internships, their goal will be to set up and lead a peer advocacy training program at The Bridge.

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