I’m a pediatric physical therapist from Denmark and I paid Starfish Therapies a short visit last fall. I have always thought that it is very exciting and inspiring to see how other PT’s work and luckily Stacy and the Starfish Therapies team were very kind and showed me around and answered all my questions. I especially like the idea of having a blog where you can reach out to parents, caregivers, teachers and colleagues and exchange knowledge and ideas. And now I’m very excited because Stacy has asked me to do a guest blog.
I want to tell you about an Olympic game day that was arranged at my current workplace Borneterapien – a Danish Pediatric Rehabilitation Centre (www.borneterapien.dk). In pediatric rehabilitation we believe that it is important to identify local networks for families with disabled children. In Borneterapien we have experienced that the parents need information about opportunities for recreational activities and social participation. We think that participation in activities and sports is a great way for children to form friendships and develop skills.
So basically we wanted to create a context in which children with disabilities and their parents were able to network with equals. We thought that an Olympic game day would be a splendid way to accomplish that.
On September 7, 2011 the first Olympic game day took place. Thirty-eight children aged 1½ – 14 years and their parents participated. We divided the children in a preschool group and school group. In each group children were allocated in subgroups of 3-6 children according to their functional and intellectual abilities. The activities included horse riding, relays, 100m run, orienteering race, pulling car, obstacle courses, swimming etc. All children participated in 2-3 activities. Afterwards we had a medal ceremony and all children, parents and therapists had lunch together.
The Olympic game day turned out to be a really great success. All parents expressed that the event was a good experience for both children and adults and they felt that it had been very rewarding to meet other children and their parents. The parents especially liked to see their child being happy and excited. All the children expressed that the event had been very good and that it had been very much fun to meet the other children. The top three experiences stated by the children were: 1) To pull car; 2) To receive a medal and 3) To compete in relays.
What started out as a onetime thing has now become an annual tradition that the children, parents and therapists look forward to with joy.
How have you tried to facilitate networking between children and parents? Any ideas?
About Michelle Stahlhut:
Michelle graduated from Metropolitan University College, Denmark with her Bachelor in Physical Therapy and from University of Lund, Sweden with her Master in Medical Science. She has worked in preshcool and school settings as well as a rehabilitation setting. Michelle has primarily worked with children with cerebral palsy, developmental delay, developmental coordination disorder, autism and Down syndrome.
Michelle believes that it is essential for the pediatric physical therapist to create opportunities for the children to participate and interact with their environment. With mutual respect and presence she feels that the therapy truly makes a difference.