The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has announced the launch of virtual support groups to combat social isolation, offered through its National Paralysis Resource Center (PRC).

Living with Paralysis and Caring for a Family Member Living with Paralysis support groups are free online meetings designed for individuals living with paralysis and caregivers to connect with community members, offer support to one another and reduce feelings of isolation. The groups will offer significant connection among peers who understand the day-to-day challenges of living with paralysis. The program features three separate support groups for individuals who are:

  • Living with paraplegia;
  • Living with quadriplegia; and
  • Family members and caregivers.

“The feeling of isolation is common for many individuals who have been diagnosed with paralysis, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped this sense of seclusion,” said Bill Cawley, Director, Peer & Family Support Program. “However, COVID-19 has shifted the way the world connects, and distance is no longer an obstacle. We can utilize this ‘new normal’ and create a safe space for people to connect with others who understand what they are going through and gain support, insight and guidance.”

The free, hour-long meetings will take place twice a month on Hey Peers, a video and chat platform. Each meeting will host up to 15 participants. The sessions will address a wide range of topics, from health challenges and nutrition to traveling and dating. A professional and a community member facilitator will help lead the conversations and encourage participants to share stories and suggest new topics.

The Living with Paralysis and Caring for a Family Member Living with Paralysis virtual support groups build on the Reeve Foundation’s longstanding Peer & Family Support Program, a network for people living with paralysis and their family members or caregivers to connect for hope, support and a way forward. The Peer and Family Support Program recognizes that the best source of knowledge is experience and offers a lifeline for anyone impacted by paralysis — from the newly paralyzed to people who have lived with the condition for decades — by offering personalized information and resources to live a fulfilling life.

These programs advance the Reeve Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis, and are supported by the PRC – a free, comprehensive source of informational support for people living with paralysis and their caregivers. The PRC is the only national program that directly serves the 5.4 million Americans living with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and other forms of paralysis. In partnership with Administration for Community Living (ACL), the PRC works to combat the environmental and social barriers to health and community living for individuals with paralysis and their family members through a vast network of services and educational resources.

To find out more about the Living with Paralysis and Caring for a Family Member Living with Paralysis support groups or to sign up, please visit Hey Peers.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis. By uniting the brightest minds in the field, we are working tirelessly to accelerate scientific discovery across the field of spinal cord research by investing in labs across the globe. Additionally, through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living, the Reeve Foundation’s National Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) promotes the health, well-being, and independence of people living with paralysis, providing comprehensive information, resources, and referral services assisting over 100,000 individuals and families since its launch in 2002.

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