On January 23 and 24, 2013, 24 people from five southeastern Help Me Grow affiliate states gathered with a team from HMG National for a valuable and innovative Regional Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.
Teams from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Carolina shared their hopes for the meeting, updates on Help Me Grow in their states, and excitement about HMG. One participant noted that, “having previously encountered parents with children who did not receive the services they needed, being part of HMG excites me because it allows me to part of the solution.”
Frank Farrow, Director of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, introduced the underlying concepts of the successful Peer-to-Peer (P2P) model. “It is important to pay attention to who is a peer. Everyone you come in contact with must be regarded as a peer. A peer is not simply a ‘role alike,’ someone who has the same role as you.”
Furthermore, the P2P model encourages enthusiasm — and even fun. A successful P2P forum “feels like a party, but it’s actually a structured learning activity and there is a real, useful product at the end,” said Farrow.
That excitement, as well as a sense of creative collaboration, informed the full-day meeting. Panel presentations and a team planning session, facilitated by Farrow, focused on Partnerships & System Building. Among many topics, participants discussed connecting with such groups as ECCS and AAP, and new, non-traditional partners. All agreed that in forming partnerships it was crucial to frame Help Me Grow as connector.
In a second panel, facilitated by HMG National Consultant Amy Fine, participants discussed Sustainability, focusing on finding robust and creative funding to support HMG systems, and the importance of always reminding funders how exciting the HMG system is.
Dr. Paul Dworkin provided final comments, focusing in part on the use of the P2P model as a tool for replication, diffusion, and innovation of the Help Me Grow system. This powerful P2P conversation will continue in our upcoming HMG National 4th Annual Forum.