By: Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L (@BillWongOT)
As a past TEDx Talker who is also an occupational therapist, I thought it will be a good idea to do some media club sessions with other TED or TEDx talks by other OT students or practitioners. So, this will be the first of this series I will try to facilitate.
When I was in my late teens (that was way before I ever decided to become an occupational therapist, by the way), I participated in three mission trips to a Native American reservation in South Dakota of USA called RedShirt. It was with a group with 1-2 dozen adolescents from California with supervision from a few clergies accompanying us. For each of these experiences, the campers were responsible to collaboratively work on a community project with each other and members of the RedShirt community during our 10-day stays. For example, we helped build a powwow arbor for the village so that they can use it to generate income for their community. Another year, we helped build a skate park where local and nearby children and youth can have a fun recreational space.
The reason why the organizers chose this area was because it was one of the poorest regions in the United States at the time. There was neither flushing toilet nor constant hot water for showers at where we were staying. Organizers would have to perform a laundry run at Rapid City, the nearest city that is a 45 minute drive from where we were staying. All in all, the intent of the organizers was to not only have us experience Native American culture (which was way different than how American History textbooks portray such individuals), but also hopefully had us realize how fortunate we were comparing to these individuals.
Now transitioning back into the TEDx presentation, I thought about these certain points.
- Sometimes we might take what we can do in our daily lives for granted. It might be what we own. It might be ways available to us to perform certain occupations. It might be our abilities to access services in the community. When I was staying in Croatia in summer 2015, it was fascinating to learn the differences in the types of assistive technology available there versus in the United States. In Croatia, assistive technology available are generally low tech and affordable. If I were to suggest some of the assistive technology devices that might be more effective and/or technologically advanced from the United States to families in Croatia, I would most likely get rejected due to the fact that they most likely won’t be able to afford such. Hence, it was a good wake up call.
- Occupational deprivation is a common issue for individuals with disability. If you add poverty and/or living in rural areas to the equation, it will be magnified even more. The question for us is- how can we assist those who are less fortunate than us, even if it’s for a short period of time?
- Sometimes the simplest occupations bring joy to people. Skate parks are relatively common in where I live in Los Angeles. Hence, it is an occupation that many people live around Los Angeles and love skateboarding can enjoy. However, in Redshirt village before 2004, it was an occupation that children and teens living there desired, but they had to rely on their families driving a long distance to access a skate park. Hence, completion of the skate park not only created a meaningful community and social space for them to perform skateboarding, but also a space where nearby children and teens can come to enjoy, too.
Video for Nicky Seymour’s TEDx Talk can be found here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OZ5fu2YKCM
- Do you have any experiences working or living in disadvantaged communities? If so, please share your experiences.
- In what ways poverty might affect people who live in disadvantaged communities, including those with disabilities?
- If you answer yes to #1, how does that experience contribute to your worldview in OT practice?
Post Chat Updates:
PDF of Transcript: #OTalk – 17th May 2016