The Bridge Between Therapy and Community

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Many children with disabilities receive therapies … physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and more. Therapies can be monumental in helping children develop specific skills needed for day-to-day living, school success, independence, and social competence. In CLASS Kids’ efforts to help children with disabilities have full participation in recreational, educational, and social opportunities, we promote viewing therapy as a “bridge” to the overall community. When therapies are viewed in this manner, they address what skills can be developed within a therapeutic setting that will be beneficial for the child’s participation in activities within the community. This then sets the stage for inclusion and acceptance.

On May 17, CLASS Kids presented “The Bridge Between Therapy and Community,” a workshop featuring a panel of four professionals discussing the importance of viewing therapy as a complement to community activities and vice versa. The event also featured a “Community Recreation & Therapy Showcase,” a tradeshow featuring exhibitors that offer a unique approach to therapy and exhibitors that offer inclusive recreation programs.

The event’s panel of experts included Kristen Burke, a Licensed Occupational Therapist with TEIS Inc.; Kathy Kelly, Assistant Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh; Rebecca Kronk, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh; and Cheryl Messick, Associate Professor of Communication Science & Disorders and the Director of Clinical Education of Communication Science & Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. The panel addressed specific strategies on using therapies as a bridge to the community, as well as how community programs can complement therapy activities. Attendees, comprised of parents, professionals and college students, also learned about the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health, a tool that can be used to explore how specific therapeutic activities can lead to community participation.

The Community Recreation & Therapy Showcase culminated the evening with exhibitors highlighting a wide variety of programs and services: Conley Solutions, a creator of iPhone applications to be used as assistive technology for individuals with disabilities, brought a new iPad for attendees to try and demonstrated how “apps” can be used as communication tools and more; River Kids Gym offers “educational fitness” in an inclusive setting for kids with and without disabilities ages 2 to 12; Wesley Spectrum Services offers summer music camps, including rock-and-roll bands for teenagers; Three Rivers Rowing offers adapted rowing opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy our region’s bountiful supply of waterways. All of the event’s exhibitors provide programs that offer a myriad of therapeutic benefits to children (and adults) in a fun setting.

Overall, “The Bridge Between Therapy and Community” was a huge success. So much so, that CLASS Kids plans to reinvent it every couple of years. The CLASS Kids Workshop Series is on hiatus for the summer. We hope you will join us in the fall as we kick off a new series filled with more great topics!

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