Olivia’s Foundation

Olivia’s Foundation Focus: Bethel

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Some of the most rewarding work we do is through the pro-bono efforts of Olivia’s Foundation. Olivia’s Foundation is the non-profit foundation arm of LIH Olivia’s Place. Our mission is to provide pro-bono and subsidized therapy for special needs children with financial challenges, provide training to caregivers and parents of children with special needs, and promote awareness about special needs children and persons with disabilities. The Foundation works with numerous welfare centers, foster care homes, and non-profit organizations.  We are very proud to have partnered and worked with Bethel, a home for children with visual impairments.

Bethel has four centers for blind children, each with a different focus, including early intervention, primary school, high school, and long-term care. Children come to Bethel from over 35 welfare centers across the country to receive individual care and education with a focus on visual impairment.

Many of Bethel’s preschool children have multiple needs or have developmental delays due to lack of early intervention. When the children arrive at Bethel, each gets an IEP (Individualized Education Program).  LIH Olivia’s Place has teamed up with Bethel to provide assessments in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language therapy to develop goals for the children.

Bethel started a relationship with LIH Olivia’s Place in 2012. At that time, the pro-bono effort was more focused on assessments and training Bethel staff since Bethel had more children with multiple needs (mostly autism). In the last couple of years, Bethel has had many successful adoptions of these children.  Having clinical reports from LIH Olivia’s Place therapists for adoptive families to review has been very helpful in the adoption process.

DongQiang with his new wheelchair.

DongQiang with his new wheelchair.

However, because of the complexity of the needs of many of the Bethel children, many are still waiting to be adopted. To help these children and their caregivers, LIH Olivia’s Place therapists have provided individual occupational and speech therapy sessions since 2015. The children typically attend six or more sessions along with their Bethel caregivers and teachers so they can learn how to help the children make progress at home. Between 2015 and 2016, 11 children have benefited from occupational, speech, and physical therapy from LIH Olivia’s Place. A couple stories are shared below.

Dong Qiang is a Bethel boy who has cerebral palsy in addition to visual impairment. An LIH Olivia’s Place occupational therapist created a postural management report, which helped Bethel determine which wheelchair would be the best fit for him.  She also connected Bethel with the wheelchair’s manufacturer. DongQiang’s quality of life has improved dramatically by having a wheelchair that supports him and is a better fit for his needs.

TWenYanghis year, Wen Yang attended both speech and occupational therapy at LIH Olivia’s Place. Wen Yang has a condition called cortical visual impairment. Children with this condition are visually impaired because the brain has trouble interpreting the information the eyes perceive, and Wen Yang presented with delays often associated with this condition. When he started therapy at LIH Olivia’s Place, he showed very little interest in toys and could only move by scooting across the room. By the third session, he surprised everyone by walking away from the room. During therapy, he also learned to play with toys and is now a much more engaged and happier child. LIH Olivia’s Place therapists were so encouraged by his progress that they continued to work with him for a few additional weeks. Wen Yang is now attending preschool at Bethel and is able to play with other boys his age.

These two stories are just a highlight of some of the progress and success that therapy has brought to the children at Bethel. At Olivia’s Foundation, we aim to help more children at Bethel and other organizations such as Bethel to make strides in their development and live happier and more fulfilling lives.

Community Outreach in September

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On Aug 20th, the Olivia’s Foundation Review Board gathered to review applications received since January 2013.  Out of 18 applications from non-governmental organizations and individual families, both local and expatriate, 8 received a financial awards worth 4,000 RMB each for therapy services at Olivia’s Place. Families may use the funds for various purposes, such as therapy or assessment services, and recipients are provided with recommendations from our therapy team to most effectively use the available funds.

Jamie Fanelli, Learning Support and Behavior Specialist, was invited to give an Applied Behavioral Analyis (ABA) workshop to over 60 local families at Shanghai Sunshine Rehabilitation Center in Songjiang District on Sept 15th.  The entire staff of the center’s pediatric therapy department attended as well.  The workshop was quite a success, as many of the parents who attended have children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and they were all very engaged and asked a lot of questions.  There are plans to provide additional training for parents and staff in this area in the fututre at Shanghai Sunshine.

In September, Marla Balzer, Physiotherapist, presented on physical independence for special education teachers and parents in ChangNing District, Shanghai.  Later in the month, Dr. Alice Fok-Trela, Clinical Psychologist, presented to the same group on promoting social and communicative behaviors for children with disabilities. Olivia’s Place was very honored to be part of  this collaboration between the public health and education communities in Shanghai.

Olivia’s Foundation in Our Communities and Beyond

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Olivia’s Foundation provides financial support to offset the cost of therapy for children in need. In addition, the foundation is committed to long term projects and dialogue that will advance the quality and accessibility of pediatric therapy and inclusive education for children throughout China. The foundation also supports Olivia’s Place staff in Beijing and Shanghai who wish to find meaningful ways to engage in pro bono work, both in our centers and in our communities.

Chen Xu School

Chen Xu School is a migrant school is Shanghai that received a grant from Olivia’s Foundation this spring to further their mission of

Durga Dass, Occupational Therapist, meets with teachers from Chen Xu School.

Durga Dass, Occupational Therapist, meets with teachers from Chen Xu School.

building an inclusive school model. In the past month, staff from Olivia’s Place has provided 4 trainings to teachers at Chen Xu School. Educational Psychologist Laura Lofy provided an overview of special education and IEP (Individualized Education Plan) training to give both the mainstream teachers and special education teachers the context and strategies to providing inclusive education and how to develop an individualized education plan. Training on communication, sensory diet, and classroom management were presented by Speech-Language Pathologist Angela Gong and Occupational Therapist Durga Dass. A final training event provided an opportunity for Olivia’s Place staff to work with both teachers and students at Chen Xu, to model the use of Circle of Friends, a peer-based intervention approach that will be used on an ongoing basis and will provide specific support to the children with special needs who are enrolled at the school. In addition to formal training events, psychologists and therapists from Olivia’s Place have worked side by side with staff from Chen Xu School to develop individualized education plans (IEP) for the 3 special needs children that the school currently serves.

Clinical Psychologist Beth Kremer-Collins, with the assistance of volunteer interpreter Emily Yan, is currently providing monthly mental health consultation at Chen Xu School. In the course of her work at Chen Xu, Beth has recently provided support for teachers and parents to help a child who experiences severe separation anxiety and to address learning difficulties with reading for another student.

Shanghai Baby’s Home

Sarah Kirk, who leads our occupational therapy team, Educational Psychologist Laura Lofy, and Foundation Director Joanna Ren recently visited Shanghai Baby’s Home, a local foster care center for orphans with special needs. During the visit, Sarah provided consultation for a baby girl who has difficulty with the use of her arms. As a result of the visit, the Olivia’s Place occupational therapy team plans to work with several of the children at the home, as well as their carers, over the summer.

Collaboration with Kunming Medical University

Olivia’s Foundation collaborated with Kunming Medical University this spring to arrange for Susan Hermes to be a guest lecturer in the university’s occupational therapy program. Susan, a US occupational therapist with more than twenty years of practical, academic, and research experience, spent approximately one month at Kunming Medical University teaching 36 students in their undergraduate occupational therapy program.

Following her time in Kunming, Susan presented a workshop on US trends in school based occupational therapy practice at Olivia’s Place. In addition to Olivia’s Place staff, therapists and administrators of Shanghai Sunshine Rehabilitation Center and several international therapy centers participated as well. The workshop was very well received and a good opportunity for both the international and local therapists to connect and exchange observations and information.

Olivia’s Place Professionals Reach Out

Physical Therapist Marc Innerhofer is providing pro bono therapy services to children at Little Flower Projects  foster center for medically fragile children in Beijing. In Shanghai, Occupational Therapist Eva Steins is volunteering her professional skills to provide therapy for a local child with cerebral palsy. Physical Therapist Veronica Bosch is providing pro bono physical therapy services to a migrant child who has spinal muscular atrophy. Another family in Hubei Province who has a child with the same condition found Olivia’s Place through Weibo. Because there are no comparable services where they live, Veronica has worked with the family to develop a home exercise program for their child.

Many Thanks to Baby in Harmony Productions!

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Baby in Harmony 2013_1Babies and kids clapped and twirled to a live interactive musical performance by professional classical musicians at the Grand Hyatt Beijing Hotel on the 5th of May. The Carnival of Animals concert delighted both adults and children with bubbles, balloons, and dance performances. Children followed the dances of their favorite animals, assembled animal figures, and reached for “underwater bubbles,” all to the tunes of classical musical pieces. The musicians and performers inspired and ignited the children’s interest in classical music in a fun-filled family event. Follow this link to see great photos of this event.


Nearly 300 guests raised more than 17,400 RMB for Olivia’s Foundation, the sole beneficiary of the event.  Olivia’s Foundation sincerely thanks Baby in Harmony Productions for putting together such a wonderful concert and helping to raise funds for Olivia’s Foundation. The money raised will be used to offset the cost of therapy for children in need and promote the quality and accessibility of pediatric therapy and inclusive education in China.

Learn more about Olivia’s Foundation here.  If you are interested in making a donation to Olivia’s Foundation or would like to discuss an event partnership, please contact our Foundation Director.


Attend Baby in Harmony in Beijing and Support Olivia’s Foundation

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Please join us on May 5 at Baby in Harmony in Beijing! Olivia’s Foundation will be the beneficiary to a portion of proceeds from Baby In Harmony, an event that introduces parents to the benefits of classical music for cognitive development in children. The event is for families with children aged 0-7, as well as families who are expecting. Click here for pictures of last year’s event.

This year’s Baby in Harmony event will be held:
May 5, 2013
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Grand Hyatt Grand Ballroom
1 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing

Tickets are 100 RMB for adults and children over 1 year of age.  Tickets for children under 1 year of age are 50 RMB. Tickets may be purchased at Eliott’s Corner and Counting Sheep Boutique.

Olivia’s Foundation is very pleased to be the recipient of proceeds from this year’s Baby in Harmony event.  Donations to Olivia’s Foundation offset the standard cost of care for families in financial need, regardless of their citizenship. In addition to assisting with therapy costs for individual children, the foundation promotes access to high quality therapy for all children in China, and acts as a community resource for the development of inclusive school models. Foundation staff partner with local hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, orphanages, and other organizations to provide technical expertise, training, and other resources. The foundation also coordinates our staff’s pro bono work and major volunteer initiatives in China.