I was reading about the “In My Shoes” Program today. It is an anti-violence program run by the Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital in Chicago.
The article I was reading (sorry, hard copy no link) quoted a peer educator and program speaker with the program as saying: “When I was younger, I always thought that if I was in a gang, I would either end up dead or I would end up in jail. Nobody told me that there was a third possibility – that I might end up disabled and confined to a wheelchair [his current condition due to gang violence].”
The program does presentations for large groups and hands-on workshops for smaller groups. The workshop allows youth to experience what it is like to live with various disabilities. What it is like to eat or try to get dressed when you are paralyzed. What it is like to get around in a wheelchair and what other attendant problems of violence-induced disability are like.
Sounds like a great educational experience. Such truth/fact based information presented by peers has got to have an impact. They have proven increased awareness after their presentations, but behavior impact is a bit more difficult to demonstrate. It is hard to prove that something didn’t happen. Anecdotally, they do have some of that information.
I applaud their efforts and hope they can spread it around in the future. It would be a great progam to pattern after, locally. Here is a link with some program information.