by Laurie Ashcraft, Executive Consultant
10 years ago iNAPS held its first conference. What was the “big bang” that brought the forces together to give birth to this remarkable association? A sense of isolation and a need to belong to something bigger and broader.
IN 2004 Steve Harrington became convinced of the need for a national association where peers could learn from each other and belong to something beyond their immediate jobs. This, he reasoned, would reduce the feeling of isolation and separation. Steve completed the paperwork to set up the original association that would eventually become iNAPS. To help reduce the sense of isolation and to share helpful information, Steve began to send out newsletters. Today, 14 years later, over 4000 open the newsletter. In 2007, he organized the first ever National Peer Support Conference, by and for peer support specialists and those by any other name who were providing support to their peers.
This year we celebrated the ten-year anniversary of that first iNAPS conference. And as we look back on the previous nine conferences we can see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown.
|· 2007 Denver
· 2008 Philadelphia
· 2009 Phoenix
· 2010 Lombard (Chicago)
· 2011 Raleigh
|· 2012 Philadelphia
· 2013 Anaheim
· 2014 Atlanta
· 2015 San Antonio
· 2016 Philadelphia
Throughout this year’s National Conference, but especially during the opening plenary and closing ceremony, we honored our rich past of providing connection, education, and the start of many life-long friendships at a special celebration this year. We are pleased to continue this annual tradition of coming together to share with each other the best practices in peer support while also finding ways to lift up and support each other.
We are grateful to the city of Philadelphia DBHIDS and so many other sponsors who support this work. Thank you for joining us! We celebrate the hard work that has gone into creating this space where we can come together, be ourselves, learn from each other and play. Thanks to all of you, old timers and new members alike, for the joy and love and excitement that peers are so good at giving. While ten years seems like a long time, it is only the beginning. We have laid a good foundation to build our futures on. We have seen only the tip of the iceberg of what we can offer to others who search for the path of wellness.
Thanks you all for being on this path with us.