Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Saving Starfish One at a Time

Each day I feel like the children are a little more comfortable. Today we worked on the power of smile and laughter, and the kids had a ton of fun decorating sunglasses and making kites. Day by day these children leave a print on my heart and I can only hope we're doing the same.  My professor told us a story at the beginning of our trip about a boy who walked along the sea shore picking up star fish, tossing them back into the ocean, one by one. Another person stopped the boy to ask why he was doing it because he wouldn't make a difference, and he said sure he would. He would help this one, and he picked up a star fish and tossed it in the ocean, saving its life, and he'd help this one, and he picked up another. He went along, one by one, helping as many star fish as he could. I realize now, why my professor shared this story with us. She told us in all the international work she does, sometimes it feels this way, but what she didn't mention, was the bittersweet feeling within it. It is a wonderful feeling to help that one starfish, and the next one or two that you are able, and it fills you with happiness, but it's hard not to want to help so much more, whether it be more time or more people, the feeling of wanting to give more resides within me, and I know when this trip is over, I will have to seek a different way of helping. I will not be able to have the hands on interaction in which such wonderful relationships have been created these past couple weeks. Being present while with the children is easy, but staying in the present after the volunteer work is done is harder. It's easier to think about next week when I will be gone, and this is where the bittersweet feelings come back.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Relating to someone with a disability

Today I got some time to myself to speak to an aid at the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled. She has a mild case of cerebral palsy. Her arms are very strong and she is in a wheelchair but she is able to do everything for herself. She is cognitively very intelligent and very educated. She is absolutely wonderful and I sincerely enjoyed the one on one conversation. She expressed how pleased she is with everything we are doing and she shared with me some of her experiences of having a disability and being treated less. She asked if it was the same in the United States. I told her a little bit about my own disability, lipomyelomeningocele (associated with spina bifida) and how even though I can walk, I cannot run, jump, and I am not nearly as fast and coordinated as lots ofpeople and I am often treated differently, and it is something I have had to learn to deal with. I told her even though our culture is different I thought the average person still treated someone with a disability differently because they did not know any better and we do have to prove to them we are able. We talked about how proving ourselves is hard sometimes but we can do it. I think she liked finding out that I had been through so much and was there still helping the children, just as she was, even though her life has been completely different than mine, we could relate a little. I have always feared that I might have children with disabilities because of my own. I have read a lot online from other mothers who have heathy  children with no neurological problems or complications, but when you have grown up in and out of hospitals I suppose it is a valid fear. Seeing and working with her is a wonderful inspiration and I know if she can raise two children, than I certainly can.  In the United States we hear about athletes who have a prothsetic leg and have run marathons but I have never been very athletic. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have new feet, but then I also remember how lucky I am to walk. So what if I cannot run or jump like everyone else can. I am blessed with so many wonderful friends, family, and experiences, new feet are small in the large picture ;)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fast Eddie Danes and Junkanoo

Yesterday we met Fast Eddie Danes. Later that evening we already had plans to go to a Junkanoo parade. Turns out he's quite the dancer around here! He even knows one of our professors, Dr. Cherry. When we first met him, we had no idea. Junkanoo is normally at the end of December but they have parades now and then for others to enjoy when they visit the Bahamas.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Week One in the Bahamas

I expected some difference in culture when going to work with children who have developmental disabilities in the Bahamas but there is not even a professor who could have prepared me for what I experienced my first day at the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled. They do not take children with disabilities anywhere over here. It costs too much money to raise a child with a disability. And then think about the cost of education needed for Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, Physical therapy etc. The children here have a ST who is not from here who comes a couple times a week. The lack of PT is very sad. But they do not have the money or insurance we have in the US. It really gives you a perspective on the poverty level in America. Just wanted to share a little. I'll share more soon.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

writing for therapists or clients?

I was talking with a Andrew, a music therapist at my internship recently, and he made a valid point about music therapists' blogs.  He mentioned that when music therapists blog, they blog for other music therapists and what would really make a good blog, is a blog for the clients.  And I thought, wow! Art therapists blog for each other, too. In fact, I am not sure I have seen a lot of blogging for clients, unless I am reading in the wrong places.

Gathering clients this summer at my internship site, my supervisor suggested that I make a flier to hang around the building and pass out to some parents.  After I did, she said it was a little wordy for someone who did not know what art therapy was, but it would still be okay to use.  Looking at it again, I realize how easy it is to write to another therapist and how much harder it is to write to the general public about art therapy.  In fact, this blog entry is probably still geared to other therapists.  However I think it is a wonderful thought and a great goal to incorporate blog entries to intrigue everyone, including potential clients.

My flier I handed out at my internship and example of writing for a therapist when I could have been writing for parents.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Have you ever gotten a text and misinterpreted completely?  I know written language can often read like many things if you are not careful.  I just stumbled upon a funny example.

This past week I was working on a display at my internship for the children to stand in front of so the parents could take their photos on the last day of school.  Some people wanted the theme of the celebration to be hollywood or superhero.  A class I am in this summer for school is traveling to work with children in another country similar to the children at my internship, and the art therapy we will be doing with them is theme based on superpowers you can find within yourself and your community such as smiles, laughter, friends family, etc.

I talked to an art teacher at my internship about the idea and we discussed how being a superhero is just being yourself and she loved it.  An idea for the display was buildings with several powerful words like in comics, but as if the kids were creating them in the sky.  "Kapow, Kazaam, etc"

Tonight I saw this "Kapow" come on my artist a day and when I clicked on it and then saw a gun beneath it, it was the last thing I expected.  But, a gun is powerful, I guess.  Just not in the way I was thinking.
Perspectives are important :)