In the journey of recovery, every footstep counts, as Perry Wellness Center founder and CEO Stuart Perry well knows. He reached national attention almost two decades ago when he undertook a thousand-mile “Journey for Life” walk from Americus, Georgia to Chicago, Illinois. The trip was designed to call attention to the disease of depression and participants advocated for mental health screening by physicians.
Stuart trained for his walk through months of exercise. Even as a former athlete and longtime sportsman, he found the trip grueling. Now in his role as director of Perry Wellness Center, he strives to engage peers daily in their own journeys for life. The journey places a focus on wellness and includes physical challenges for all.
But Stuart also knows that these challenges are even greater for individuals who have health problems or physical disabilities. While daily walking and other physical activity is part of the center’s prescription for wellness, some peers may find the regular walking paths too much of a daily challenge. In particular, the climb from the classroom building to the market is quite steep.
Now a modified path has been graphically highlighted for these individuals, with the addition of brightly painted footprints on the pavement. The yellow, sparkly footpath leads peers on a walk that provides rest areas, handrails, and a gentle rise and fall. Along the way, small hills and limited step climbing are designed to build both strength and confidence in peers.
Certified peer specialist Amber Mimlitsch-Rechtorovic, herself a disabled Marine Corps veteran, leads a group of peers in training along this footpath. As a certified athletic trainer, she appreciates the value of such training for peers with physical limitations.
“These peers must push a bit harder with their physical handicaps,” Amber notes. “I realize physical limitations, and together we can discuss and manage these disabilities.”
Increased physical activity can be empowering for individuals in recovery, as it improves not only physical strength and stamina, but individual motivation and pride. At Perry Wellness Center, it’s all part of the journey – one step at a time.
In the photo above, Amber, James, Angela, and Sarah assemble for a morning walk up the market hill past the aptly named Hope Fountain.