Contact: Pamela Powell, (617) 353-0197 | firstname.lastname@example.org
(Boston) – Four graduate occupational therapy students from Boston University (BU) Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences will travel to Romania during spring break to volunteer at an orphanage. In conjunction with Orphan Reach, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in Romanian orphanages, the students will help train orphanage staff and evaluate the children.
According to Sharon Cermak, professor of occupational therapy, the students will provide training to the caregivers in the orphanage to help improve the cognitive, emotional, social and physical development of the children in their care. Cermak has been active in Romania since 1992 and will accompany the students on the program.
“It is nice to return each year and to see the progression of the program since we first started 11 years ago,” says Cermak, whose daughter Amanda, a BU pre-med major in the College of Arts and Sciences, will also travel to Romania for her seventh trip.
The students will first travel to Romania’s capital, Bucharest, to provide consultation for Romanian Children’s Relief. The group will then drive two hours to Buzau to help at the Bucegi Orphanage. The students will stay with family members of the orphanage staff during their nine-day outreach.
The Bucegi Orphanage, also known as Center #1 in Buzau, houses approximately 35 children aged 0-5, the majority of whom have developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, autism and blindness. With typically two caregivers for every 10 children, the orphanage is under-staffed and also lacks vital knowledge. “The staff is dedicated and really cares about the children but most have no formal training in working with children with disabilities,” says Cermak. “It’s very hard for them.”
The graduate students will organize group activities and perform developmental assessments of the children as well as assist in everyday activities of the orphanage. They will provide in-service education for the staff in the areas of cognitive development and early language development.
“It’s a great honor to be able to travel to Romania during my last semester at BU,” says Alicia Walker, a second-year graduate student participating in the program. “It is a tremendous opportunity to practice everything I have learned so far in a real-world environment.”
Each student will personally fundraise $300 to donate to the orphanage. The total $1200 will be used to buy books, videos, and tapes in the Romanian language for the children as well as hygiene products. In addition, campus fundraisers will provide toys and extra funds for the orphanage.
You can help by participating in the following fundraisers, which are taking place until the end of February. All proceeds and contributions will benefit Bucegi Orphanage:
• February 16th – 24th – Toy Drive: Donation boxes in the BU Sargent College Lobby.
Toys for children aged 0-5 will be accepted pending good condition. All toys will be donated to children in Bucegi Orphanage. Toys may be dropped off at any time.
Please note the following suggested items:
• Sound and light toys to stimulate children with low-vision or hearing impairments
• AA batteries for toys
• Simple puzzles
• Boxes of crayons, colored pencils, colored markers
• Pencils, pencil sharpeners
• Small staplers with staples
• Scotch tape
• Coloring books
• February 16th- 24th – Plant Sale: BU Sargent College IRC Lab, 2nd Floor
An array of potted houseplants will be sold for $3 -$10 from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. All proceeds will benefit the orphanage. All plants were donated by Lucia Grochowska Littlefield, director of the Instructional Resource Center.
Orphan Reach, a non-profit organization, provides staff training, early intervention of developmental disorders, facility improvement, and foster care training at the Bucegi Orphanage in Romania. For more information, please visit www.orphanreach.org. Tax-deductible donations may be made payable to: Orphan Reach, 775 E. Blithedale, #563, Mill Valley, CA 94941.
Boston University (BU) Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is an institution of higher education, research and clinical centers whose premier academic programs prepare dynamic health professionals and whose research and leadership in the health and rehabilitation sciences is actively shaping health care. BU Sargent College is the only private institution in the country offering five nationally ranked graduate programs in health and rehabilitation sciences. For more information and to learn about degree programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, communication disorders, health sciences, athletic training, nutrition, and rehabilitation counseling, visit www.bu.edu/sargent.