PHI Spark (No. 7)


Invite Your Group to Discuss Life-with-Polio Stories—Those of Others and Their Own, as Well

Post-polio support groups are safe places to share our personal stories with one another. There is a special heart and soul connection that instantly occurs. Nobody understands us quite like another polio survivor.

Why not devote two meetings to discussing autobiographical articles? At the first meeting, the group would read and discuss one or two short essays written and published by external polio survivors. Then at the next meeting, one or two members from within the group would share their written accounts about their polio experience with everyone by reading aloud after distributing their stories ahead of the meeting.

Here is how it could work:

First Meeting

  1. Before the first meeting, present three polio-related article titles to the group, and after reading a synopsis of each, have the group choose two. After the meeting, the leader would send a hard copy or web link to each person so they could read the article.

  2. In advance, one person could volunteer to act as the discussion group leader. They would read each article, research the author, see if the author has a website.

  3. At the meeting, the group could warm up with a brief personal catch-up, or other icebreaker, led by the support group leader.

  4. Then the discussion leader would start by briefly sharing the article’s content and any relevant information about the author.

  5. At this point, members would be asked to discuss the first post-polio article; then the second one. A few of the following suggested questions could prompt sharing:

    • What was your initial reaction to this article? Did you like it? Did you not like it?
    • What do you think the author’s purpose was in writing this essay? What ideas was he or she trying to get across?
    • How did you feel about what you read? How did it affect you?
    • How is what you read similar or different from your own experience? In what way?
    • What did you like best about this piece?
    • What did you like least?
    • Share a favorite quote from the article. Why did this quote stand out?
    • What new things did you learn?
    • Or create your own questions with your group’s interests in mind.

Remember, all members are welcome to join the group and listen to the discussion even if they have not chosen to read the articles.

Here are a few ideas for articles to read:

Find more autobiographical stories by polio survivors here:

Second Meeting

In advance, invite one or two support group members to read and share their own stories for the other members to enjoy and respond to. The discussion leader could select questions from the above list to spark conversation. Remember to keep the discussion focused on positive sharing and lots of gratitude to the authors for having the courage to share such personal information with everyone.

This type of “reading meeting” could work quite well in a Zoom-type format. Have you already facilitated meetings like this before? How did it go? Would love to hear about your experiences.

On behalf of PHI, we congratulate you on all that you give to others! Thank you!

Let us know how we can more fully support you and the work you do to strengthen polio survivors. Contact