Mental Health

Inside look at Ability360’s peer mentorship model

Ability360 Vice President of Advocacy April Reed explains the value of a peer mentorship program when it comes to overcoming disabilities
Ability360 Vice President of Advocacy April Reed explains the value of a peer mentorship program when it comes to overcoming disabilities

While advocacy groups focused on improving the lives of people with disabilities are not rare, one such Phoenix-based nonprofit is also run by people with disabilities.

From its headquarters sandwiched between two busy freeways just to the northeast of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the team at Ability360 works to “address needs and barriers within the community,” by providing services throughout the state of Arizona.

For the Season 2 premiere of It Happens at STN, April Reed, Vice President of Advocacy, sat down to talk about the Ability360 mission, a unique peer mentorship program, and the profound effect working there has had on her life.

Watch the video here:

The following transcript has been edited for length, clarity and context.

Hi, I’m April Reed. I’m the Vice President of Advocacy at Ability360.

What is Ability360?

So Ability360 is a nonprofit organization. We serve people with disabilities and their families. We have the privilege of working with anyone with a disability. So it’s cross-disability.

Ability360 is what’s called a Center for Independent Living. We are federally funded and as a Center for Independent Living, we are able to work with anyone with a disability, any age group.

What is the Peer Mentorship Program?

One of the most impactful services we can offer is peer support and connecting people with each other to share their stories for a purpose.

As a small staff, there’s only so much our staff can do, and volunteers could really help expand our mission.

The peer mentors are volunteers. They’re people with all different types of disabilities, all different backgrounds. The peer mentors are really the heart and soul of Ability360, they come in, they share their stories, they listen.

People work on goals. Whether that’s one-on-one or in groups, that peer support can be really life-changing for someone, and [to] know that a peer mentor could really support them in that goal.

What has the program done for you?

Some of the most amazing people I will ever meet have been through our peer mentor program.

I also get the opportunity to just watch them show and share and give in a way that really for a lot of our mentors just they’ll say to us, this makes my own journey have purpose.

I might not have asked for this disability or plan for it, but [with] everything I’ve learned, I can pay that forward now.

So to have that opportunity to give people that place is just amazing and it is why I’m still here after all these years.

How can people help?

As a nonprofit organization, we always have the need for more volunteers.

There’s just an ending need and an ending opportunity. And so if you know somebody in the community who would be a great mentor or if you know somebody who needs mentoring, please think of us.

We’re really proud of this program and what we can offer.

But also as a nonprofit, those sponsorships, those corporate partnerships really help us expand the services and the programs we offer here. And so I would just say, please consider Ability360 in our programs when you’re looking to partner or to donate.

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