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Local Group Finds Peer-to-Peer Help

December 7, 2012

Special to the Times-Record Elevate Within social worker Tanya Couture (left) works with the Philomathians from VCSU during a breast cancer awareness event. Elevate within will hold its Winter Extravaganza on Saturday at the Eagles Club.

The Elevate Within Holiday Extravaganza, which is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Valley City Eagles Club, is just one way the organization hopes to help people de-stress during the holidays.

The vendor and craft show will provide shoppers a one-stop holiday shopping opportunity where they will be able to find last minute gifts for everyone on their lists without having to run all over town, or to the mall. In addition, Nashville recording artist and Valley City resident Greg Hager will provide holiday music from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and dance teacher Roxanne Rogers will show attendees how to de-stress, during the holidays and every day, with simple relaxation techniques from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Food will be available from the Eagles and Santa will make an appearance from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in conjunction with the Eagles Club Christmas party.

According to Evaluate Within founder and director Rev. Jennifer Pickard of Valley City, the organization is an umbrella group for peer support groups or a referral center for peer-to-peer support.

Pickard founded the group when people, upon learning that she was a minister, would ask her for help and she realized a need for support for local residents, who, by nature, tend to keep their problems to themselves.

The group, she added, does not provide counseling or medical advice (though they will provide referral services for those and other services as needed).

“A lot of times in the area, people don’t know where to go to for help or they’re too embarrassed to go to a facility like a hospital or clergy because in a small town, they’re scared people are going to talk,” she said. “So, they they tend to keep within themselves their problems.”

Elevate Within, which has grown to be nationwide, gives people an opportunity to call in and have a source for finding other people who are going through the same difficulties.

“Sometimes we just lend an ear if someone wants to talk.” said Pickard.
According to the organization’s social worker Tanya Couture, who does a lot of networking, if a local group of peers isn’t available, she can find often find help in other regions. She can find many support groups through social service organizations, churches, hospitals, and other sources.

“There are peer support groups for just about anything you want,” said Pickard.

Peer support groups, include Alcoholics Anonymous and a local group for young professionals. If a group doesn’t already exist, Elevate Within volunteers can help start one.

One support group that Elevate Within started is “Let’s Walk About It!” This group meets to discuss specific topics while walking away problems and pounds, according to the group’s pamphlet.

The combination of walking and talking is particularly cathartic, according to Pickard.

“When you get those endorphins flowing and you’re outside and you’re breathing in, things become clearer.

Topics are chosen depending on if someone has a problem to discuss. If the group is large, then a leader will usually pick a topic.

Two routes and times are available; one walking group meets at 12:15 p.m. on Fridays and takes about an hour. It starts at Brothers III on Main Street and goes north on FifthAvenue NE to 12th Street to Central Avenue and back to Brothers lll. This walk is a stroll led by Pickard.

The second walk starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. This walk takes about 30 minutes and meets at the City Park Band Shell and travels along Fourth Avenue to Viking Drive and then takes a scenic route through the Valley City State University campus, over the foot bridge and returns to City Park. This is a fast-paced walk led by Couture.

Another walk follows a walking trail around the Jamestown Reservoir.
Walks are scheduled from April through October. Everybody who participates in the walks is asked to pre-register.

Currently Elevate Within is funded entirely from the pockets of Pickard and Couture. The women hope to have a non-profit designation sometime next year.

To reach Elevate Within call (888) 387-3123. To learn more about the organization or to register for a “Let’s Walk About It!” walk starting again in the spring, visit www.elevatewithin.com.

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