Haldimand-Norfolk Resource Centre has created a “Get Moving, Get Fit, Enjoy Life” program that centers on peer specialists who are trained to provide leadership in physical activity. Peer specialists assume formal roles as activity buddies as outlined in the Peer Specialist Activity Buddy Training Manual.
Activity buddies encourage their peers to incorporate physical activity in the monthly activities calendar and they initiate and support activities during free time at the Centre. They will also be involved in the development and delivery of a peer-run healthy lifestyle education program. The goal of the program is to help motivate participants who question the value of a physically active lifestyle. The peer support would help assess the potential benefits of physical activity and to introduce them to others who have experienced the benefits of becoming physically active.
Activity buddies will also be matched, as required, with individuals who have an interest in connecting with existing opportunities in the community but face barriers related to their mental health, such as anxiety about meeting new people. The buddies help to mentor individuals so that they can be connected with community activities. The activity buddy will help participants pursue their interests, support their ongoing participation, and motivate them.
The primary challenge for the program is to create a diversity of activities to capture the interest and ongoing commitment of participants of various abilities. The geographic challenge in serving Haldimand and Norfolk demands the development of a diversity of activities and locations to meet the needs of people “where they are at”. The economic and logistic barriers in attempting to get participants to one or two fixed sites would severely hamper any efforts to engage a wide range of people and numbers of people and would become unsustainable financially. All outreach to the community will need to be mindful of providing education to break down stereotypes and stigma associated with mental illness in order to have a result of full inclusion of consumers in community based activities.
The activity buddies provide the individual attention to the interests of each participant. Partnerships with other mental health service providers will help ensure that every component of the program is accessible. Efforts will be made to support the partner mental health providers to develop their own activities to increase accessibility and diversity.
For more information, contact:
Susan Roach, Program Manager
Haldimand-Norfolk Resource Centre
Phone Number: 519-428-0580
E-mail: rsusandiane [at] kwic [dot] com
Visit the resource directory for materials created by Haldimand-Norfolk Resource Centre, "Get Moving, Get Fit, Enjoy Life".