IDD Peer Mentoring

The Peer Mentor Training Program for People with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities Curriculum

The Peer Mentor Training Program Curriculum is a product of Optum, Inc. All rights reserved. Any use, alteration, copying, or further dissemination without express written permission from Optum is prohibited.

About the Curriculum:

The curriculum consists of twelve lessons. It is recommended that at least two hours be allocated for each lesson to allow group activities and discussions. All lessons have activities that can be conducted in person or over Zoom. The Peer Mentor Training Curriculum contains:
  • A Student Guide PDF
  • A Trainer Guide PDF
  • Slide Decks (PPT) for Lessons

Curriculum Content:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Peer Mentoring for People with I/DD
  • Lesson 1: The Role of the Peer Mentor
  • Lesson 2: Ethics and Etiquette
  • Lesson 3: Self-Determination
  • Lesson 4: Self-Advocacy
  • Unit 2: Personal Boundaries
  • Lesson 5: Supporting People’s Choices
  • Lesson 6: Identifying Feelings and Emotions
  • Lesson 7: Conflict Resolution
  • Unit 3: Legal Boundaries
  • Lesson 8: Legal Protections and the ADA
  • Lesson 9: The ADA and Disclosure
  • Unit 4: Peer Mentoring in Action
  • Lesson 10: Abuse, Neglect, and Bullying
  • Lesson 11: Mental Health and Substance Use
  • Lesson 12: Detecting Scams and Fraud

How It Was Developed:

Optum acquired the base content from the non-profit provider, InReach. Community Bridges worked with the original author to consolidate, revise, and augment the content. The curriculum is designed to be instructor-led and includes learning activities to be done as a group or individually, knowledge checks, and a comprehensive competency test.

How it was Tested:

Community Bridges served as Project Director for two cohorts of students in North Carolina in 2021 and 2022. Feedback from these cohorts was utilized by Community Bridges to further refine and strengthen the curriculum before public release.


This initiative is supported through funding from the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities and Optum and support and leadership from the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Community Bridges, and Alliance Health.


  • Information on how to access/utilize the curriculum:
    Tracy Sanders, M. Ed. Sr. Director, Product Development Optum Behavioral Health [email protected]
  • Information on pilot cohorts, program deployment and/or outcomes.
    Kelly Friedlander, MSW, MPA CEO & Principal Consultant Community Bridges [email protected]

Participant Testimonials:

  • "This class brought a topic that is very unheard of: peers helping peers. Thank you for giving us the chance to try something new and create change for our peers."
  • "This experience was great. I learned a lot from this class. I appreciated getting to know everyone. I feel like I learned a lot."
  • "I learned so much! Many things I’ve learned can help me, and now I can help others."
  • "One of the most compelling strengths of the program was the implicit context that people what IDD have valuable wisdom and great potential to support others in similar situations. There was great emphasis on intellectual accessibility via guiding participants to understand their own experience and how it relates to supporting others in supporting another person’s self-determination and self-advocacy."
  • "I felt the class was very informative and beneficial for my self-advocacy skills and training in providing peer mentor support for other people with IDD's. I was able to draw upon my personal experiences and contribute them to the class discussion, and it was very interesting to learn about other participants' experiences and listen to their insights."

This curriculum was based on the InReach peer advocates leadership training curriculum authored by Patricia K. Keul in collaboration with a group of peer mentors with intellectual/ developmental disabilities (I/DD). Peer mentors included: L. Newell, F. Davis, C. Brantley and M. Cannady. Optum expresses our gratitude to these individuals for their willingness to share their insights and lived experiences to help others with I/DD to live, work and contribute to their communities as full citizens.