When we say that Perry Wellness Center is peer-run, we really mean it. Not only do the majority of our staff identify as behavioral health consumers, we also rely on our enrolled peers to share their expertise and experiences with others.
“Perry Wellness Center is a peer-run facility,” founder Stuart Perry says. He cites an example: “With our growing population, the challenge increases to meet the personal and educational needs of our clients. We enjoy the fact that some peers are stepping up to help other peer friends to better their lives as they learn new and exciting things.”
Wanda Lyles is a striking example. She helps other peers with a variety of skills. “I understand the importance of learning about life,” she explains. “There are so many things happening in our world today that we must be aware of and seek to manage the information.”
Mrs. Wanda is actively involved in peer-to-peer education. “I am trying to teach peers of the need for educational skills,” she notes. “We assume that common activities are easy for everyone, but we all have some challenges. As I work to help friends learn to tell time, improve their math and reading skills, know the best use of the dictionary, or improve personal appearance, I sometimes discover a hearing or visual impairment. I tell Stuart, and we work to correct these problems.”
As part of her educational mission, Wanda Lyles has also visited Sarah Cobb School in the local Sumter County school system, to speak to classes about the importance of education and learning in today’s world.
“It is important that all adults challenge kids to better themselves for the issues in today’s life,” she concludes. “We must realize that most everyone has challenges. It is important for all of us to realize our shortcomings and work to improve them.”
A table mate, Mary Green, supports the peer-centered approach at Perry Wellness Center and offers words of approval about the program: “I am always happy unless someone does something that they should know is not good for themselves and Perry Wellness Center. Stuart, Pam, and Amanda have all worked hard to build a great place for us to come and learn new things. I am happy here and want to be sure others realize how good things are here.”
In the photo above, Mary Green, left, and Wanda Lyles consider possible creative uses of wooden blocks at their table.