So many children in orphanages live with cerebral palsy (CP) and other issues that make mobility difficult. Thanks to Ellen Dietrick, our Physical Therapy (PT) Coordinator and her friend Lisa, an Occupational Therapist (OT), so many lives have been changed this past week as they conducted “Physical Therapy Camp” in Fujian province.
Ellen and Lisa arrived in Fujian where they began their first day of PT Camp by giving a lecture to a group of thirty Fujian orphanage staff members. The staff members were all so eager to learn new ways to help their children.
Throughout the week, children from many different orphanages, including the Fuzhou, Jinjiang, and Fengze orphanages, were evaluated. The orphanage staff busily took photos so they would be able to continue to help their children afterwards.
Originally, this camp was scheduled for last year, but because of problems stemming from H1N1, it was delayed until this month. The advantage to having the camp postponed was that it gave Ellen more time to collect used braces. The effort to collect and get all of the braces to China was worth it, as nearly every donated brace has found a new owner. Ellen sent this story:
All the kids were adorable, but one little boy who was 10-12 years old was particularly cute. I fitted him with a pair of nearly new donated braces to improve his walking pattern along with a pair of new socks and gym shoes I had brought to fit over them. He was so excited and kept saying “Are these just for me?!”
The week ended with a field trip to McDonalds for all forty children from our Believe in Me Jinjiang school. Except for medical appointments, this field trip was their first excursion out of the orphanage. One of the little girls from the Jinjiang school will soon be adopted and her parents, who are waiting eagerly, donated the money to take these kids on this exciting expedition.
Both Ellen and Lisa have worked so hard to make a difference for these children. Physical therapy can make a huge difference in the mobility of children that often need a little extra help and support. The added benefit to PT is that as a child gains mobility, they also gain independence and self-esteem. By passing along their knowledge and skills to the orphanage staff, they have given these children a tremendous gift.
Karen Maunu is the Associate Executive Director for Love Without Boundaries. She lives in Minnesota and has five children, two of whom are from China.