SPIRIT program in Dublin serves communities with IDD

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A peer-led behavioral health group in Laurens County improves the quality of life for IDD individuals.

DUBLIN, Ga. — One Central Georgia health program is striving to educate, inspire and motivate people in the community. 

SPIRIT is a peer-led day program for individuals 18 years or older with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

SPIRIT stands for Support Peers in Recovery Initiative Taskforce. The program is part of the Community Service Board of Middle Georgia (CSBMG).

The program was started because of the pandemic.

Mental and behavioral health programs were cut in the surroundings counties which led to a merger. 

Teresa Holliday said she and her staff had to come up with a new program to help some of the their members at CSBMG. 

“Naturally, we couldn’t go out and abide in the community, but there were other things that consisted in the program that we were able to do some things inside, instead of outside of the community,” Holliday said.

The members participate in five different group sessions led by a certified peer specialist.

Three of the sessions focus on sharing personal experiences, encouraging individualized growth and independency, and recovery. The other two sessions focus on healthy lifestyle skills and exercise. That can range from Zumba, nutrition, sleep and stress management, and more. 

The goal of SPIRIT is to make the members have purpose-driven lives.

The members are taught how to shop, how to pay at restaurants and how to vote. 

Nick Armentrout of Soperton said that he loves being able to vote and have independence.

“SPIRIT helps me be more mature. They say I got my own choices to make,” Armentrout said.

Armentrout said his favorite part about the program is going on field trips. He also likes how he can be with his friends. 

The staff at SPIRIT help the members improve their daily functioning skills, social engagement, as well as reduce IDD symptoms.

“The staff helped me calm down, ” Armentrout said.

Steven Smith is the IDD service chief. He said that he and his team were worried about the limited services for the IDD community.

“The pandemic hit IDD pretty hard here in Dublin, really around the state, but basically what it has caused is it has caused a shortage of services that are available for individuals with IDD and that was basically what SPIRIT is born of,” Smith said.

He said a shortage left a gap for the people they serve in the 13 counties around Dublin.

“We had 35 individuals that would have no longer been able to receive service,” Smith said.

CSBMG is a behavioral health organization that provides in-patient crisis, residential and community-based services for individuals with mental health, substance abuse and IDD. They service more than 12,000 individuals and focus on their clients strengths and need during the care-planning process.

To find more information about the other services CSBMG offers, go to their website.

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