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Post-Polio Health (ISSN 1066-5331)

Vol. 4, No. 4, Fall 1988

Read selected articles from this issue ...

Fifth International Polio and Independent Living Conference Program Schedule (May 31-June 4, 1989)

Support Groups: What Are They?
Gini Laurie, Saint Louis, Missouri

Support Groups: Why Do It Alone?
Paul J. Rau, Greenville, North Carolina

Support Groups: Who Needs Them?
Mary Ann Hamilton, Denver, Colorado

Support Groups: Who Can Benefit?
Margaret E. Backman, PhD, New York, New York

Support Groups: Is Our Group Normal?
Ruth Wilder Bell, PhD, Columbia, Maryland

Where Are the Spouses?
Jim Miller, Wichita Falls, Texas

Support Group Program Ideas

What People with Disabilities Hope for from Other People
Robert J. Ronald, SJ, Taiwan

Americans with Disabilities Act / Potpourri / Abilities Expo-Midwest

Post-Polio Bibliography / Publications

QUESTIONS ASKED, questions answered, and questions unanswered at International Polio Network's Support Group Leaders' Workshop in June of 1988 prompted the following series of articles. The thoughts and suggestions are not just for leaders but for all polio survivors who are seeking information about the late effects of polio or dealing with the consequences of the late effects of polio.

Support Groups: What Are They?

Gini Laurie, Saint Louis, Missouri

Polio support groups, like all other self-help groups, have a common health concern, govern themselves, provide emotional support, gather and share specialized information, increase public awareness and knowledge, are nonprofit and voluntary, charge small or no dues, and are constantly struggling to survive.
Sharing with other survivors in support groups is the essential psychological support needed to make lifestyle adjustments when dealing with the late effects of polio. The comfort in the togetherness that members extend to one another is essential in the aloneness of our mobile, urban society of small and scattered families.

Support groups are successful because they offer real relief from isolation and fear. They offer experiential knowledge and practical coping skills, not only for members but often for their spouses and families. They provide rare opportunities to learn from positive role models - those who have been there.

There is great variety in polio support groups. Some meetings are structured, others casual. Some have achieved nonprofit status. Some meet in each other's homes or by phone or mail; others meet in independent living centers, rehabilitation centers, churches, hospitals, senior centers, libraries or local March of Dimes or Easter Seal offices. Some have asked one or several of these organizations to provide photocopying or postage as well as meeting places; others are totally self-sustaining. Some have co-sponsored valuable local and regional conferences with their local organizations.

To seek help or not to seek help from local organizations is a dilemma for many support groups. If support groups work with local organizations, they must work out a collaboration that is mutually beneficial since all are part of the helping systems in a community.

If support groups work with local'' organizations, the groups must lead; the organizations must follow.

Total independence is the surest way to remain true to the purpose of a support group - to provide mutual support. Collaboration is an alternative if the support group maintains ownership and autonomy.

NOTE: Gini Laurie was the Founder and Chairperson of Gazette International Networking Institute (GINI).