A physical disability can mean an immediate decrease in quality of life and a future with fewer opportunities. But for youth with disabilities in developing countries where able-bodied people struggle to survive and support their families, a disabled child is often an unwelcome burden.
Nicole Leakey (MScOT'11) has always had a keen interest in international community development and working with marginalized populations. Thanks to her initiative in maximizing the opportunities available at Queen's, and the generosity of donors like you, Nicole is now one of the inaugural fellows of a unique leadership program designed to create lasting change for disabled youth in Tanzania.
Through the community development course in the occupational therapy program, Nicole learned how to utilize community development frameworks when approaching a new setting to build on existing strengths.
Combining these skills with her interest in the international community, Nicole has been in Tanzania for the past eight months developing a program to help disabled children.
"It's exciting to put an idea into action and see it take shape," Nicole recently told me.
Her assessment uncovered needs for social programs, business training and schooling, among others. As Nicole integrated more fully into the community, she decided that a training program in poultry rearing would have the greatest impact on the children.
"Livelihood, as a means of community development, is an aspect that has always been important to me," Nicole told me. "It's still in development, but I can already visualize how different the children's lives will be when the program is rolled out."
Nicole is endorsing and practicing the "each one teach one" motto for the program to ensure its sustainability. With everyone involved in teaching their neighbours, the program will become self-sustaining and the positive effects will be lasting.
Lessons learned don't always happen in the classroom. Thanks to the opportunities made available at Queen's, students can create change and be changed.
It's up to each student to take advantage of the opportunities, but it's thanks to donors that these opportunities are available. Just as one student can make a difference, one donor can make a difference.
They can't do it without us. Please add your support with a gift to the Rehabilitation Therapy Student Experience Fund today.
Yours in thanks,
Director, School of Rehabilitation Therapy