Springfield College Physical and Occupational Therapy Students Serve as Volunteers at FONHARE



Springfield College Physical Therapy Professor Dawn Roberts and a group of 11 physical and occupational therapy students will take part in a global health service trip to Haiti during the week of March 16 through March 20. Roberts and the students will be spending their spring break as volunteers at the Haitian Foundation of Rehabilitation (FONHARE) clinic located in Ouanaminthe. 

“We will be going out into the local community to perform home assessments and to work with families on home modifications to improve access to the community for individuals with disabilities,” said Roberts. “Students will provide evidence-based assessment and interventions for a variety of pathologies alongside local Haitian clinicians with the goal of expanding the skill set of the Haitian therapists. This will be a great experience for Springfield College students who will learn while working side-by-side with clinicians at FONHARE.”

The Springfield College contingency was invited by physical and occupational therapy colleagues in Haiti at the FONHARE clinic following multiple years of relationship building between Springfield College Chair of the Physical Therapy Department Julia Chevan, Roberts, and professionals at the clinic.

“Last year both Dawn and I were in Haiti during the spring break week developing relationships with Haitian rehabilitation professionals,” said Chevan. “This year’s trip is the capstone for Dr. Robert’s Global Health Service Experience course which she teaches in the spring semester. For the enrolled students, this is an opportunity to gain an understanding of global health, and the implications of living in the United States, which is generally an over-resourced healthcare culture, in contrast to Haiti, one of many under-resourced cultures.”

FONHARE is a grassroots Haitian nonprofit organization with no political or religious affiliation that is dedicated to providing integrated physical and cognitive rehabilitation services to children and youth with disabilities in Haiti, especially those with a poor quality of life living with limited resources regardless their socioeconomic condition. FONHARE is the only organization providing rehabilitation services in the northeast of Haiti to 13 cities with almost 500,000 citizens.

Founded in 1885, Springfield College is known worldwide for the guiding principles of its Humanics philosophy—educating students in spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others. With its foundation of academic excellence and rich athletic heritage, Springfield College prepares students with real-world leadership skills for careers that transform lives and communities. The college offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of health sciences, human and social services, sport management and movement studies, education, business, and the arts and sciences. It also offers doctoral programs in physical education, physical therapy, and counseling psychology. The college is ranked in the 2015 edition of “Best Colleges” in the top tier of “Best Regional Universities – North Region” by U.S.News and World Report, and is designated as a premier Leadership Development Center by the YMCA of the USA. More than 5,000 traditional, nontraditional and international students study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its School of Human Services campuses across the country.