Perspective: Progress in the Eyes of a Therapist
At the Hengyang Care Centre, we have a therapy team comprised of nine local Chinese ladies. With the support of our Therapy Manager Alison Kennedy, a physiotherapist from the United Kingdom, this team runs different therapy programmes for our children and young adults, while also supporting our caregivers with equipment, posture and play advice.
My name is Li Xiong and I have been working as a therapist at the Hengyang Care Centre since October 2014. I have two children of my own, a 6-year-old little girl and a baby girl who is 9 months old. Since having my own children, I have experienced what a mother’s love is. Raising a child is a serious and important long term commitment and responsibility. Because of ICC, I have the additional honour to participate in raising the children here and to embrace them with love; I get to engage with them in play and therapy to help them grow.
A key part of my daily routine as a therapist is to conduct individual therapy sessions. Each day, I have several 40-minute sessions with different children. We pick them up from their family homes and bring them to the therapy room for their sessions.
Daily Fun “Circle Time”
Each day we arrange a “circle time” in the different group homes at the care centre. We do the circle time together with the caregivers, kindergarten teachers, and often the international volunteers. This way all of the children have an adult helping them participate. Our circle time is always fun, boisterous and noisy!
The teachers and therapists take turns to lead the circle time. Our goal is to provide games and activities that help the children develop physically, emotionally and socially, and at the same time have fun that helps them enjoy life.
Conductive Education Classes
As a group of therapists, we also run conductive education classes every weekday in the care centre. The children in my group have fairly high needs. The classes are set up to enable them to develop physical, social and communication skills to help them in their day to day lives. Each child has a therapist or caregiver assigned to support them one-to-one in the group setting. We have seen the children making a lot of progress with this structure.
Outreach to Government Welfare Centre
Apart from the routines at ICC, twice a week one other therapist and I go to the government welfare centre to run a circle time there. We partner with a therapist and some caregivers from the welfare centre to do this. It is a very energetic time as the children there are less used to activities and structure. Although we are often left quite tired at the end, we sincerely hope that the children in the welfare centre enjoy the circle time and that they and the government staff learn through their participation in it.
I enjoy being a therapist in the Hengyang Care Centre and I am learning a lot from my loving and patient colleagues. I love meeting the children’s needs and getting them to smile and laugh and enjoy each day. While working in ICC I have learnt from the children too. The children we work with have difficulties participating in everyday activities, but they persist, over and over, and they work extra hard to achieve and finish tasks. The children’s persistence teaches me to also persist when life gets difficult.
My hope for the children in ICC is that they are given a platform to grow and develop and show their potential to the local society. I want people to learn that children with disabilities are equally precious, and my hope is that they will live in a world where there is no discrimination, and where their needs are met.