Springfield College PT, OT Students Volunteer in Haiti

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College Physical Therapy Professor Dawn Roberts and a group of 11 physical-therapy and occupational-therapy students are taking part in a global health-service trip to Haiti this week, March 16-20. Roberts and the students are spending their spring break as volunteers at the Haitian Foundation of Rehabilitation (FONHARE) clinic located in Ouanaminthe.

“We will be going out into the local community to perform home assessments and to work with families on home modifications to improve access to the community for individuals with disabilities,” Roberts said before the team’s departure. “Students will provide evidence-based assessment and interventions for a variety of pathologies alongside local Haitian clinicians with the goal of expanding the skill set of the Haitian therapists. This will be a great experience for Springfield College students, who will learn while working side-by-side with clinicians at FONHARE.”

The Springfield College contingency was invited by physical- and occupational-therapy colleagues in Haiti at the FONHARE clinic following multiple years of relationship building between Roberts and Julia Chevan, chair of the college’s Physical Therapy department, and professionals at the clinic.

“Last year, both Dawn and I were in Haiti during the spring break week developing relationships with Haitian rehabilitation professionals,” said Chevan. “This year’s trip is the capstone for Dr. Roberts’ Global Health Service Experience course, which she teaches in the spring semester. For the enrolled students, this is an opportunity to gain an understanding of global health, and the implications of living in the United States, which is generally an over-resourced healthcare culture, in contrast to Haiti, one of many under-resourced cultures.”

FONHARE is a grass-roots Haitian nonprofit organization with no political or religious affiliation that is dedicated to providing integrated physical and cognitive rehabilitation services to children and youth with disabilities in Haiti, especially those with a poor quality of life and limited resources. FONHARE is the only organization providing rehabilitation services in the northeast of Haiti to 13 cities with almost 500,000 citizens.

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