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.
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.
This 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.