Wednesday, May 18, 2011

OT Alumnae Travel to China

Ashley Culver '09, OT '11

Ashley Culver '09 (left) and Mandy Littlewood '07 (right)
       Mandy Littlewood ’07 and I are graduating in May with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from Pacific’s School of Occupational Therapy.
       As part of our degree requirement to complete an “innovative practice project,” we have teamed up to develop a sustainable therapy program at an orphanage (the Social Welfare Institute) in Fuling, China. We are traveling to China this July with an interprofessional team from Pacific to provide therapy to children with special needs living at the orphanage, and to train the orphanage’s caregivers.
       The Social Welfare Institute (SWI) is located in China’s countryside and is home to a growing number of children, particularly children with disabilities. Cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, and various other mental disabilities not well diagnosed are common conditions seen at the orphanage today. Many caregivers within the orphanage have limited knowledge and experience working with developmental disabilities and do not have the training to take care of them. 

       The therapy team is creating a therapeutic program for SWI to help the children progress as much as possible toward educational and academic, physical, social, and cognitive independence.Collaboration between Pacific University and the orphanage began in 2009, when the therapy team began partnering with Fuling Kids International (FKI), a 501(c) 3 U.S registered not-for-profit organization who partners with the orphanage to provide education and support. 
       Kathlene Postma, an English professor at Pacific’s College of Arts & Sciences, is the co-founder and board chair for FKI.  She contacted Mandy with concerns of the increasing number of children with disabilities living at the orphanage. From here, Mandy introduced Kathlene to the OT professors, and the collaboration began to grow. Over the past two years, occupational therapy professors Sandra Rogers and Sandra Pelham-Foster, and physical therapy professor Nancy Cicirello have visited the orphanage and a nearby hospital to provide initial therapy services to the children. 
       This year, the team has grown and will now include Pacific’s director and professor of special education, Chris Macfarlane. Mandy and I will be the first students to join this team of professionals. Mandy and Ashley have been preparing for their trip to China by learning about the Chinese culture and common Chinese views about disabilities. Our goal is to create and implement a culturally sensitive therapy program that meets the needs of the children and the caregivers. We are currently raising funds to supplement travel costs and welcome any donations.
       To learn more about their project and to make a donation, please visit the website at: 

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