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Jameka Coffey Harkins: Parent Peer Support Graduation Poem

Families as Allies does the training for parents and other caregivers raising children who complete the Mississippi Department of Mental Health’s peer support certification. One of the June participants, Jameka Coffey Harkins, read this poem at graduation. We thought it captured much of the spirit of parent peer support and wanted to share it with you. We appreciate Ms. Harkins for giving us permission to do so.

I stand before you today to talk about being a parent/caregiver peer support specialist.

When talking about this during discussion Ms. Joy told us to never go in a room and do a lot of fussing.

Our class was small in numbers with the 3 C’s with Condrea, Chandra & Carrie along with the 2 J’s Ms. Joy and Jameka. During this class Ms. Joy made us all feel like some keepers.

With being a parent/caregiver we had to learn we are not the driver of the car, but we want our parents to know they are the shining star.

We learned about telling our clients to set goals and to let them know they are in control.

During group discussion, we talked about the different things that happen in our lives; by this time, Ms. Katherine joined and told us to always teach our parents to strive.

This was such a great class & after all of this information, all we wanted to do was pass.

On August 6, 1986 President Reagan signed the Handicapped Children’s Act, a law that gave parents of children with disabilities more say in the development of their child’s individual education plan. He wrote this act so that these children will be accepted in this land.

We will help our families believe so that one day they will be able to achieve.

We talked about the symptoms that we should follow, laws and policies about family & children’s rights. We want our parents to walk into any room & let them know they are just that bright.

We also talked about have you ever found yourself weighed down with extra baggage. We want our parents to realize they are still not that damaged.

We talked about common carry ons and how we should not try to be the hero, the fixer, the expert, the fighter, or the judge, but we are simply here to give them that extra nudge.

When times seem hard and friends seem few, when you get so down-hearted and you don’t know what to do. Remember there is someone who really cares all of your burdens, they will help you to share this person may be finder, keeper or seeker. Who am I? My name is Jameka.
To Ms. Aurora and Ms. Jackie* Thank you for always making it happen.”

*Aurora Baugh and Jackie Chatmon, employees of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health

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