Community Organizing for Social Justice: Raising Voices Through Peer Support Groups
Group Peer Support (GPS) is unique to the human experience and something we have been doing for thousands of years. Based in the tenets of social learning theory, GPS lays the groundwork for creating networks and avenues for learning and sharing that are often not learned in other ways, and unique opportunities for individuals to receive validation and support from someone who has experienced something similar. This shared experience is often a powerful vehicle for healing and moving forward. When we share in our traumas with one another we also share our strengths and abilities to overcome these traumas.
As we continue to grow and learn from one another, this shared experience is also a vehicle for breaking down barriers such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. between individuals. Finding common ground and making connections with others from across broad ranges of age groups, ethnic and racial backgrounds, genders, classes, and educational backgrounds provides
exposure to a wide range of thoughts, ideas, belief systems, and other types of lifestyles that help enrich one’s life and can help offer valuable perspective and validation for one’s own lifestyle or belief system.
As we continue to speak our truth and identify in our shared experiences we gain strength from our shared compassion and
begin to feel empowered, and the truth becomes easier to conceptualize and face because we know we are not facing it alone. One way communities can heal together is to face the truth together. This can help individuals move forward in the face of trauma, partly because they know they are not alone in the journey and that there are others standing beside them for the journey. When we raise our voices together, we become louder and easier to hear, thereby making it harder to deny what has happened to us. GPS is an empowering, engaging, validating, resource providing, perspective gaining, approach to the human experience that we all can benefit and gain from.