Editor’s Note: Individuals at the National Spinal Cord Injury Association had been watching and learning about Rafferty Laredo for many years. They knew of his passion to help people with spinal cord injuries, and they recognized a strong need for a Chapter in Houston, Texas. When the decision was made to try and develop a support system in Houston, this opportunity was presented to Laredo. Part 4 of a 5 part series.
“The first responsibility of NSCIA Houston is to create a cohesive, local community for people with spinal cord injuries,” Rafferty Laredo says. “We define the community as not only the person with the injury, but also that person’s family, friends, healthcare professionals and SCI related businesses to serve as a network for individuals with spinal cord injuries across Houston. The main goals of NSCIA Houston are education, community reintegration, community outreach, and advocacy. Our initial work is to create peer support groups across Houston.”
Currently, Houston has only three support groups, and Laredo’s goal is to at least double that number by the end of 2012. “A tremendous amount of bonding occurs when people who have been injured can share time with others like them,” Laredo emphasizes.
“These groups discuss major issues that are occurring in their life. They may discuss specific topics such as sexuality or bowel and bladder management or how to relate to caregivers. The group may also be a simple, open sharing between friends; it’s being open and honest with one another about this new life on a regularly scheduled basis.” Rafferty Laredo either leads these groups or brings in other speakers who have had experience in certain areas or perhaps clinicians who bring their expertise outside the hospital setting to these groups.
“We also strive to provide community reintegration opportunities,” Laredo explains. “For instance, we did a day of yoga that free to our members.” Besides his medical certifications, Rafferty Laredo also has two yoga teacher training certifications, one through Yoga Therapy International and the other through the Yoga Institute of Houston. “Yoga teaches that there’s always a connection with the mind and the body, whether you can feel your body or not,” Laredo says. “This yoga experience allowed our members to experience that fully.”
“Our outreach in the community involves us looking for individuals who are looking for us, especially the people who have limited resources. We are fortunate that we have amazing volunteers who can help us.” This community reintegration is one of the primary missions of NSCIA Houston. Laredo and his team try and identify and support other community based organizations that are trying to help and minister to individuals with spinal cord injuries. One such group is Living Hope (see Day 5).
The video below shows National Spinal Cord Injury Association Houston at Bikram Yoga in Pearland, Texas.
For more information on NSCIA Houston, visit www.txspinalcord.org.
Next: Rafferty Laredo & NSCIA Houston Assist Living Hope & Other Organizations
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com