Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing great! OT Month is in full effect over here at the division, and best believe you can catch me walking down the hallway sporting one of our signature OT Month pins! In addition, I just got back from an awesome experience at AOTA, which I will be writing about more later in a future upcoming blog. Today’s blog is about the second part of my leadership project, in which I had the opportunity to carry out a philanthropic project I had curated in preparation for the leadership capstone experience, which I named PhilaPinas. In the beginning stages of preparing for this project, my initial goal was to raise $250 of funds to be utilized in purchasing slippers to be distributed to children walking barefoot in the rural provinces. However, through the amazing generosity of my family, friends, and classmates, we were able to collectively raise $1700 dollars of funds. Given this monumental donation, this evolved and expanded the project to reach several different sites in which we could extend our positive impact. In addition, I had no idea just how far this money would take us, as the dollar goes such a long way in the Philippines. Just to give you some perspective, I was able to purchase 100 slippers for only $33! Thus, you can only imagine how far $1700 dollars of raised funds would take us. In each site, we had the opportunity to meet the coordinators of these respective sites, meet the people who found refuge in these safe-havens, and assess what these places needed the most in terms of donated supplies. The donations consisted of various necessities and supplies, including baby soap, baby shampoo, milk, crackers, detergent, clothes, slippers, toothpaste, and much more!
The first site we had the pleasure of visiting was the Hospicio de San Jose Orphanage and Elderly home. This home provides refuge for all types of individuals, including pregnant mothers who are homeless, children with special needs, women who have been domestically or sexually abused, orphaned children, and homeless elderly. Their motto is “welcoming all people, from womb to the tomb.” Over 200 people call Hospicio de San Jose home, who have opened their doors to help underserved communities dating all the way back to 1810. To my pleasant surprise, Hospicio de San Jose even had an occupational therapy department! I had the opportunity to meet with their team members, and hear about their inspiring mission of helping all people who enter Hospicio De San Jose’s doors.
The second place we visited was St. Rita’s orphanage and school, which is the elementary school my Mom once attended! St. Rita’s provides care to orphans and children who have special needs. The children at this site had a real enduring nature about them, and were an absolute joy to be around.
Next on our list was Philippines General Oncology Ward. I had the opportunity to hang out with these resilient kids, a lot of whom spent their time doing art while receiving chemotherapy. Thus, to support them in this occupation, we provided various art supplies in addition to food.
Following this visit, we had an opportunity to check out Bahay Ni Maria, a home for grandmothers who have been abandoned. These women had a lot of wisdom to share with me about life, resiliency through struggle, and God’s providence. I learned a ton from them and the light that they shared.
Next, we visited the College of Perpetual Help, where my Aunt is the dean at the college of health sciences (which includes an occupational therapy department!) She mentioned to me that they do an outreach program at National Belibid Prison, in which they send teachers to educate the inmates. We decided to visit and donate at National Belibid Prison, and learned more about their program. They incorporate a true “rehabilitation through education model” and they are only 1 of 2 schools in the world that offer an opportunity for their well-behaved inmates to attain a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship while still serving their sentence. My aunt was telling me about what the graduates of the program have gone on to do, and how the program has decreased recidivism rates. The model that I saw here was truly inspiring, and I believe their rehabilitation through education model serves as a successful platform that other institutions can take after.
In our last couple of days, we had an opportunity to distribute slippers in the Lagunas, Pasay, and Manila rural areas. At first I was a little weary as to whether or not we would be able to distribute all these supplies, but I quickly found out just how many kids walk the streets barefoot. The gratitude expressed was truly heart felt, and the smiles on their faces were priceless. Our last stop was at San Roque Parish, a church that does outreach to a community in which 70 families had lost their homes to a fire. The sisters at this church emphasized just how far our donations would go in helping these families.
When I look back at the leadership capstone experience as a whole, all I can say is that it was truly a life changing experience that helped me grow in many ways. I’ve never felt more connected to my culture and roots, and to be able to give back at this capacity was truly a dream come true. I would like to thank my family, friends, and classmates for their generosity, and letting me be an agent of sharing their positive impact. Yes, there’s no doubt that there’s still a lot of work in the Philippines to be done; there is corruption, war, and a tremendous amount of people living in poverty. With that said, the most refreshing aspect of this experience was to witness the generosity, gratitude, and resilient nature of the Filipino people, despite the daily struggles they face. This is definitely not the last time I will be carrying out the PhilaPinas project, but I have to give big props to all the people who made this possible, and to our program for affording me the opportunity to carry out this dream
Video and pictures to come!
Until next time,
Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing great! It’s been a very busy time around the division as we try to finish up the last couple weeks of the semester strong. As for myself, I have been keeping myself busy with my awesome electives, preparing for AOTA, and coordinating OTSC philanthropy events. Most recently however, I had one of the best experiences of my life, which was my leadership capstone project that I led in the motherland of my ancestors, Philippines! I have not been back to the Philippines in 20 years, thus it was an opportunity that I had developed a lot of excitement and anticipation for. I had the pleasure of conducting my externship with one of my dear friends and fellow classmates, Amy. My leadership capstone project had two major phases: the first revolved around the overarching goal of deciphering the conceptualization of occupational therapy services in the Philippines. The second main emphasis focused on being able to give back and spread a positive impact through a philanthropic drive I curated in preparation for my leadership capstone project, which I named PhilaPinas. Through the generosity of my family, friends, and fellow classmates, we were able to raise up $1700 worth of supplies and necessities to be distributed amongst several rural provinces, orphanages, elderly homes, hospitals, and even a University that provides a “rehabilitation through education program” for the national prison. I will write more about the PhilaPinas in my next blog, but first I will start off with my first week on an island called Cebu, where my journey started.
I had the pleasure of spending the first week of my trip at a place called Dynamic Pediatric Therapy Services. It was first started by Berry and Apple Sepulveda, who both had envisioned a model of delivering quality care occupational therapy services in the Philippines, something they both felt was lacking. Apple is currently an occupational therapist and manages several clinics in California. Berry is a fellow Trojan and received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California in 2010. Based on the principles she had learned in her pediatric courses in addition to Apple’s vast experience in pediatric occupational therapy, they opened Dynamic Pediatric Therapy in February 2014, and their clinic provides the following services: sensory integration, social skill groups, feeding clinics, and free developmental screenings and caregiver training in the rural provinces. Being able to navigate healthcare in the Philippines presents its own challenge, as there are some stark differences. For one, health insurance is not mandated; most people do not have health insurance, and even if they do, the support given is often times very minimal. A majority of consumers compensate occupational therapy services through private pay. In terms of specific occupational therapy adaptive equipment, Berry has had to be creative, as most equipment is not accessible domestically or it is too expensive. As a response, Berry has had to resort to other creative solutions; one specific example is a proprioceptive shirt designed by Berry that provides deep pressure for her clients that need this input to modulate. There are additional contextual differences which affect the delivery of occupational therapy services, the largest most likely being financial resources. Berry and Apple both envisioned occupational therapy as something that should be accessible to everyone, no matter what their circumstances. Thus, they provide developmental screenings in addition to caregiver training in the rural provinces, in order to address this gap. Being able to spend the first week with Berry and her team was a great experience, and it was enlightening to see how Berry has translated the foundation she attained at USC and implement it in another country. That being said, Berry, Apple, and their outstanding team of occupational therapists are tremendous advocates for high quality occupational therapy services in the Philippines, and the passion is definitely exhibited in their work.
Here’s a picture with Berry and her amazing therapist team:
During the same time in Cebu, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Miljoy and Ken King, whose family legacy revolves around three generations of spreading a positive impact in the Philippines, through an organization started by and named after Ken’s grandfather, Juanito King. Founded in 1991, the Juanito I. King Foundation aims to serves as a resource agency to help individuals in need. Their foundation is rooted in the belief that education can break the bonds of poverty, thus the organization first launched as a scholarship program to help individuals in need pursue higher education. Since its inception, the Juanito I. King foundation has expanded its reach and capacities to help others in several ways. The program also focuses on education enhancement projects focusing on building school classrooms, computer laboratories, and teacher training. In 2003, they created a mobile dental van that provides dental services in poor and marginalized communities. In 2009, they created the DREAM for Children with Special Needs project, aimed at providing quality and sustainable therapy services to children with special needs in Cebu. One of the quality therapy services provided through the Juanito I. King foundation is occupational therapy, providing subsidized services that reach individuals who otherwise would not be able to access occupational therapy services.
Here’s a picture of me with the family behind the Juanito King Foundation:
Being able to spend time with both Dynamic Pediatric Therapy services and the Juantio I King foundation was inspiring in so many ways. I developed a deeper appreciation for the work I do as an occupational therapist, and just how great our impact can be. It was a refreshing experience to see that both of these organizations are leading the forefront in being able to provide high quality occupational therapy services, and assuring that these services are provided to all individuals regardless of their economic background. The fact is, the Philippines is a third world country, and there is still much work to be done. However, with organizations like Dynamic Pediatric Therapy and the King foundation, this instills hope in thousands of individuals who hope to provide the best care for their families, to assure that they are living their lives to their greatest potential.
During the time I had off, I had the opportunity to explore Cebu and Bohol and take in the beauty of the Motherland! Here are some pictures of the amazing sights, and a video of some whale shark diving for your viewing pleasure
Please stay posted for the continuation blog of my leadership capstone project, in which I’ll be writing about the PhilaPinas drive. Thank you for reading!
As an occupational therapist, one of the things we are best at is being able to capture the details of any given occupation. We are trained to develop this skill, because we are constantly breaking down activities into components to find out where our clients/patients may experience challenges or successes during a given occupation. From there on, we have a better idea of where our treatment efforts should be focused. With that said, during the course of the program, I’ve gotten better at developing this skill – almost to the point in which I can’t turn it off. Here are some examples of what I would like to call the “OT lens.”
This one time, I was hiking with Leila and her sister at a pretty challenging course. I remember for one of the pathways, the hill incline grade was ridiculously steep (almost 45 degrees.) I remember Leila’s sister was wearing one of those drawstring backpacks, in which she had only one strap over her shoulder. Almost automatically, I found the following words coming out of my mouth: “It may be easier if you put on both straps of your backpack on so that way there’s no muscle imbalance. Also, get down more towards the floor to lower your center of gravity, and spread out your feet to increase you base of support; it may be easier to get up the hill.” I remember Leila smirking, and I found myself laughing as well, because I totally OT-geeked out. Best believe we got up that mountain, here’s a pic from the top!
This other time, I was on my way to a concert with some friends from the program. I remember being in the backseat of a full car, faced with a dilemma I’m sure you’ve all been through: trying to find your seatbelt buckle between the tiny crevice between you and your friend, without looking. I remember saying to my friends, wow, the stereognosis demand on this task is through the roof! For those of you that don’t know, stereognosis is defined as the ability to perceive the form of an object utilizing the sense of touch. I debated with my OT homies and they just laughed, saying “Jon, can we not talk about anything school related right now!?” I responded by saying “I’m sorry, I can’t help it! I can’t turn it off!”
To preface these last examples, I’ll give you a little background about my family: it is currently being overran by numerous cute babies. It’s straight up baby land at my family parties. With that said, I find myself sort of becoming the baby guru of my family. I remember one of my cousins was mentioning that her daughter loves to wash her hands. I then asked, “Does she like to do anything regarding water?” She immediately replied, “Yeah. She loves the water.” I replied with, “Well, she may be sensory seeking towards anything that involves water, much alike me.” It’s important to note that during any family party, I will take my niece an average of 4-5 times to wash her hands (even if her hands are clean,) and every time I do take her, all I can think to myself is…. “I feel you girl, I feel you!” Haha lastly, during a recent Superbowl family party I was hanging out with my 9 month nephew and I was rocking him side to side as he rested in my arms. In 5 minutes, he was sleeping… a friend called me the baby whisperer, to which I replied “I can’t take the credit… it’s the vestibular input magic at work.”
Yeah, sometimes the OT geeking out can get a little crazy and out of control. The fact is, once you’re an OT, you can’t really turn it off. Call it what it is, but it’s one of the things that comes with being an OT: we are trained to analyze people in the context of their meaningful activities; the occupations that are embedded in everyday life. The lens never really comes off, even if you try. I guess idealistically, I would like to compartmentalize school, work, and my personal life, but the fact is, having an OT lens doesn’t feel like work… at this point in time, it’s second nature, and it’s something that I love to do. I guess Confucius said it best: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” For me, that’s what occupational therapy is.
It’s an age old question: what is occupational therapy? Funny enough, I ran across this on facebook the other day:
Point being, occupational therapy is a vast field with many faces. An occupational therapist can work with a variety of individuals across a number of diverse settings. With that said, I think it’s because of this reason that it’s a challenge to find an all-encompassing definition of exactly what it is that we do. In my own experiences, my definition of OT is constantly evolving the more I am exposed to the different things that an occupational therapist can do. Just to give you a better idea of the many hats that OT’s can wear, I will talk about some of my own experiences regarding occupational therapy and the various outlets I’ve had the privilege of applying my passion towards.
My first level I fieldwork was at City of Hope. Oncology is an emerging field in occupational therapy, and this was something I’ve always wanted to explore because I’ve always had a passion for working with individuals who have cancer. Over at City of Hope, I was doing a number of different OT interventions, such as mirror therapy, ADL/IADL training, therapeutic exercise, and energy conservation techniques. I remember one of my patients was a Mother. I remember her telling me during our sessions together that it was not the cancer itself that was the most challenging aspect, it was more so her frustrations of feeling that she was not able to engage in the roles and occupations that were meaningful to her. Specifically, she felt like she could not be the Mother she wanted to be, and she could not live the active lifestyle she had desired, because she did not the same energy she once had to undertake these ventures. Thus, in her therapy sessions we would work on energy conservation techniques and we would find ways to build her activity tolerance, so that way she felt more connected to who she was while battling her cancer. The context of occupation engaged her in therapy, and I really enjoyed my time working with her. Here’s a picture of my favorite place at City of Hope, the Golter Gate.
My second level I fieldwork was at Project 180. It was over here that I was working with individuals who were incarcerated or who were at risk for incarceration. I remember watching a 30 days documentary by Morgan Spurlock, and he mentioned a statistic that 2 out of every 3 individuals who are incarcerated will be readmitted back into prison. Thus, Project 180 aims to help these individuals who are at risk for incarceration develop the skills that they need in order to successfully reintegrate into the community. The interventions I was doing consisted of a number of things, including helping an individual find a job, develop a skill set for maintaining a job, helping an individual reconnect to their family, and basically supporting these individuals to turn the chapter and recreate a new life story that they could be proud of. Here I am with my friend Amy, on our last day at Project 180.
I’ve mentioned my time at the Honolulu VA in my previous blogs. It was over here that I was able to work with the heroes who have served our country in inpatient, outpatient, and home based primary care settings. Over here, I was able to help veterans rehabilitate injuries utilizing the occupations that they loved to do. Last semester, I did my level I FW in Pediatrics at NJA therapy services, where I was helping children with special needs in both school based and outpatient settings. Over here, I was utilizing interventions such as fine motor exercises, sensory integration, and ADL training to help these children live a life to their fullest potential. This semester, I’m working with individuals who have multiple sclerosis utilizing a lifestyle redesign model. In doing so, I’m putting in my 100% effort to help my participants reach their meaningful goals, and am supporting these individuals to connect to the occupations that provide them meaning.
Based on my experiences, here is my definition of OT: we are a health profession that helps an individual reach their meaningful goals and fullest potential utilizing meaningful activity. This can be through prevention or rehabilitation, but ultimately we use the context of occupation to help an individual get to where they want to be. We look at a number of factors, including social/physical environment, support systems, personal strengths, and participation patterns, to help an individual overcome the challenges that prevent them from doing what they would like to do. We utilize our skill set to help the people we work with, and put forth our efforts to empower these individuals to live a life engaged in the occupations that give them meaning.
With that said, I pose this question to you: What’s your personal definition of OT?
Greetings everyone! Hope you all had an amazing holiday season and have gotten 2015 started on the right note! As for me, my break went by super fast… but I guess that’s how you know it was time well spent! I did choose to stay local over the break, since I had a bunch of family and friends in town, but it was nice to just be home and relax/recharge in preparation for what will be my final semester in the master’s program!
With that said, I am feeling rejuvenated to finish off this last semester strong mainly because I got to engage in some of my favorite occupations over the break, such as hiking, running, playing music, and of course hanging with my friends and family. In addition, I also had the opportunity to experience some pretty amazing moments over break. My 9 month old nephew took his first steps! I like to think (emphasis on like to think) that I may have had something to do with his developmental milestone, since he was pretty much my practice subject for all that I was learning in the pediatrics immersion I also had the opportunity to see Conan O’ Brien (who I happen to think is the funniest man on the planet) at one of his TV show tapings, courtesy of my friend Brian, who’s also in the program.
Lastly, one of the most heartfelt moments of the break was when I had the opportunity to deliver donated toys to some children who needed it the most. Every year during the holiday season, my sisters and I have a tradition of donating toys to the children of Los Angeles County USC hospital. This year, as the USC Occupational Therapy and Science Council Philanthropy Chair, I chose to open up this donation project to the faculty, staff, and my fellow students of the program. The donation project was also expanded to benefit the children of the VIP (Violence Intervention Program,) a wellness center down the street from our campus that provides support and advocacy services for children who are victims of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, sexual assault, and children who are placed in the foster-care system. The response was nothing short of amazing! As I was putting the toys together, I could not help but be overcome with joy because my colleagues, teachers, and co-workers’ generosity served as a reminder of what the holiday season is truly about: spreading a positive impact to bring joy into the lives of others. All together, we collected over 100 toys that were donated to the well deserving children of the Violence Intervention Program, creating some priceless holiday memories for these families. Here’s a snapshot of the donations!
Shoutout to the person who donated the doggy! Ha I kidd, that’s my dogggg.
As I embark on my final semester of the program, please tune in for more blog updates from my fellow ambassadors and I! There’s a lot to look forward to this semester, including electives, OT month, my leadership capstone externship in the Philippines, and of course, graduation! As for now though, I will enjoy the ride while I can, and I’ll be sure to document these experiences so that way you’re riding shotgun with me
Until next time,