A group of rehabilitation professionals known as Team Canada Healing Hands are in Belize providing rehabilitative education, training, and care in areas of need, particularly for children with disabilities. During their visit this year and over the course of the week, they tended to approximately 55 children, provided 18 wheelchairs and customized 15 others. We caught up with the team today at the House of Culture where we met Occupational Therapist, Carolyn Kelly who told us about their capacity building with workers from Project Hope and the Inspiration Center.
Carolyn Kelly – Occupational Therapist
“We’re trying to set up a wheelchair for a little girl and she could be at risk at pressure because she doesn’t have cushion on her wheelchair, this is her chair here, and you can see that the upholstery is very weak and it is crooked so our job is to give her a nice flat seated surface and to give her cushion so that when she sitting in her cushion her skin is protected and she will be able to sit upright and level. We brought lots of things from Canada but our hope is that we can use materials that are available here in Belize so that when we leave all the professional therapist and health professionals in Belize can continue to be able to do the work when we are gone.”
Dalila Ical – Reporter
“How did you prepare this one seat here?”
Carolyn Kelly – Occupational Therapist
“Well we started with a piece of basic upholstery foam and from there we measured the little girl and in the middle of the upholstery foam we made a little channel where her sit bones will fall in then we took two needles for when you are swimming and we put the pew needles on either side of the cushion and we also put a pew needle just here in the center to give some nice channels for the little girls legs to go in and she’ll sit right here in the bottom of the cushion where it is soft and she will be at less risk of getting skin breakdown. The guidelines we are using are based on the World Health Organization so we are doing the type of work that you will not be doing right here in Belize but also in other countries like Peru, like Jordan, like Canada, like the United States so it is based on policy and procedures that we use all over the world and our hope is that we continue to use this same type of equipment, the same type of processes so that in Belize children and adults can get the best possible wheelchairs for them and they could do the things that they would like to do each and every day.”
Team Leader, Ruth Duggan, says they are working diligently with parents and caregivers to continue to strengthen their programs with existing partners, while forging new initiatives to further improve services for citizens living with disability.
RUTH DUGGAN – Team Leader, Healing Hands
“At home we work we all work at hospital and community settings and we are from all over Canada, we have about 250 volunteers and each time we come to do a project we collect the number of people that we need and come to Belize and provide services in the area of physical medicine and rehabilitation so that means working with people with disabilities so we coming to Belize for three years now and we partner with people here and that is our mandate to partner with local agencies that we can built capacity so that eventually we don’t have to come back up until now there hasn’t been a whole lot of services for children and adults with disabilities and right now there is anything for adults in disabilities we are just going to meet somebody from people from the Belize Alliance for People with Disabilities on Monday to start on how we can start building a relationship with them and we have been working for the last three years with work pediatric project and CARE Belize which is now Inspiration Centre and working with them to provide services that they have identified as being in need and as working with the Inspiration Centre field officers to help them learn new skill and build their capacity learn how to do what we do at home and so that they can continue doing it here for the people of Belize. We see the kids that we provided chairs and seating for last year and they are coming back to see us and their mobile and their getting around and their going to school and developing a little bit just normally because they have a better way to get around.”
In their next visit to Belize, Duggan says they will be bringing speech therapists that will work closely with children with curriculum development at schools.
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