'I Feel Free': the Experience of a Peer Education Program with Fijians with Spinal Cord Injury
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© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. This paper examined the experiences of people with spinal cord injury and related neurological conditions (collectively referred to as SCI) who participated in a peer education program in Fiji and explored their perceptions of its impact on their community participation. The study used an exploratory qualitative design, involving nine people with SCI. Data were obtained via semi-structured interviews, six months after the initial peer education program delivered by the first author and another Australian wheelchair user. Three themes described participants’ experiences and perceptions of the peer education program. The world closes down illustrated the way that physical environments and community attitudes were unsupportive of participants’ fulfilling life roles. Seeing the possibilities described the participants’ experiences of learning from peers and beginning to imagine new possibilities. The final theme, Opening up the world, identified their perception of the peer education program’s impact, as their worlds opened up, and they resumed previously abandoned responsibilities and activities. Participants valued contact with peer educators as much as they did the content taught. Their greater sense of confidence, communication skills and wheelchair use contributed to participants’ increased sense of community participation.
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