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Role of Peers – “Would you like to fly?”

Hogg Peer Policy Fellows
Hogg Peer Policy Fellows (from LtR) - Carl Hunter, David Johnson, Allison Franklin, and Kevin Garrett

It has been demonstrated time and time again that people with like experiences can better understand and relate to others living in similar experiences. Peers are coaches, mentors, advocates, and sometimes confidants. They are often bi-lingual and have talents beyond anything that can be taught in a classroom setting. They speak “street smarts”, empathy, and easily crossover and fit into other cultures that other people fail to master in a lifetime. How does a peer leverage his or her experiences to help others?

To use an analogy, birds of a feather flock together, right? At least, that’s what we have been taught. Birds of a feather flock together, but are we looking at the feathers to determine if someone is a peer?

An African American Texas prison warden once said to a group of African American prisoners, “you might be my color, but you are not my kind.” Statements like this perfectly illustrates the point I am trying to make – maybe it is not the feathers that count, rather it is the natural and instinctive ability to fly. Some birds cannot fly, some can but don’t, still others fly at a much higher altitude than others.

I strongly suggest that those of us peers who wish to support our brothers and sisters stop basing our services on the outside characteristics of a client and start asking thoughtful questions like, “if you would like to fly, what can I do to help you ?” or “who told you that you cannot fly?” When we begin to meet people where they are instead trying to mold them into our own rehabilitative processes, we will see that some clients can soar much higher than we could ever imagine!

Kevin Garrett
Aug 18th, 2019
About "Peer Voices" - We believe that true systems change can only come from being informed and led by peers. This space brings the voices of lived experience such as TJP's own Peer Policy Fellow Kevin Garrett and other peers who are passionate about systemic change in the justice and mental health system. In speaking their truth and telling their stories, they provide courage, hope and support to each and every one of us engaged in this difficult work.

Category: Peer Voices |

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