man in wheelchair

Connect with Friends Program Aims to Tackle Isolation

Weld County, CO, June 25, 2021 – Isolation among persons who live with paralysis is a concern for healthcare professionals nationally, especially during the pandemic. Recognizing this challenge, nonprofit Connections for Independent Living has launched the Connect with Friends program specifically for persons with all types of paralysis.

Connections handout
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Providing northeastern Coloradans with weekly in-person and online video conferencing sessions, the program includes eight individual workshops through May 2022 on topics ranging from photography, genealogy, gaming, armchair travel, and videography. Offered for no charge to qualifying residents of seven northeastern Colorado counties, the program is funded in part by a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center.

“The Reeve Foundation is proud to be able to offer the support needed to help alleviate the physical, mental, and behavioral effects related to isolation and loneliness brought on by the pandemic,” said Mark Bogosian, Director, Quality of Life Grants Program, Reeve Foundation.

“The pandemic really heightened awareness around isolation, particularly for people with disabilities such as paralysis that constricts their access even further,” Connections’ Executive Director Rochelle Mitchell-Miller said. “We are excited to offer new and engaging programming specifically to people with paralysis to engage socially. Self-care means so much more to us in 2021 and should be equally accessible to everyone.”

For area residents living with paralysis, participating in the Connect with Friends program will provide an opportunity to meet others, either in-person or virtually. This is in addition to having goals and objectives to meet as an active participant of the program.

Peggy Garcia leads the Connect with Friends program.

The program is directed by Connections professional Peggy Garcia, who has collaborated with several area residents with paralysis during their transitions from group living homes to independent living. “I am passionate about the new Connect with Friends program,” Garcia said. “When I speak to people with paralysis about the program, they are excited to learn something new and to have the chance to meet others who like the same things. My hope is that the program helps them gain a sense of belonging and opens up the world of possibilities.”

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation awarded 21 grants in June, 2021, totaling $580,934. The nonprofit organization’s Quality of Life grants program supports nonprofits nationally that empower individuals living with paralysis. Funding for this program has been made possible through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living.

Connections for Independent Living is a non-residential, participant-controlled nonprofit Independent Living Center that promotes independent living and the empowerment of all persons with disabilities. The organization is one of nine certified Independent Living Centers throughout Colorado and since 1986 has specifically served individuals in seven northeastern counties.