Katy Ehnstrom ’20, Volunteering at Sprouts Therapy in Honolulu, Hawaii

My name is Katy Ehnstrom and I am a member of the class of 2020 at Skidmore College. I am a Health and Human Physiological Sciences major hoping to go into the field of Physical Therapy. I have always had a passion for working with children, so I also hope to incorporate that into my future career. This summer, I had the pleasure of volunteering at Sprouts Therapy, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Sprouts Therapy is a pediatric habilitation program offering intensive occupational, physical, music, speech and feeding therapy services. As a volunteer, I had the opportunity to observe therapists in a variety of treatment programs for children. Sprouts Therapy specializes in brain, motor and sensory based treatments that promote independence, community integration, fine/gross motor skill development, communication and social skill development. I had the pleasure of working with a variety of therapists: physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, music therapists and feeding therapists. I also got to learn about aspects on the administrative side, such as insurance and paperwork.

Often while observing, the therapists asked for help with the child they were working with. For example, I participated in activities with them, demonstrated exercises/movements, and retrieved different supplies that the therapist needs. Aside from observing and helping the therapists, daily activities included cleaning, organizing, supervising children in the lobby, special art projects and prepping the food for feeding therapy.

The “big gym” at Sprouts Therapy.

It was really interesting to see how a space that just looks like a big playful gymnasium is used for physical, occupational and speech therapy. You wouldn’t think by just looking at the picture that this is a place of rehabilitation and growth for children. It was also intriguing to learn about the different supplies and toys they use in therapy. There are cabinets separating toys and gadgets by their use: fine motor, sensory, and gross motor, and I got extremely familiar with those. It was interesting to see how something like a puzzle or simple ball can be used in such a positive way.  

My favorite part about this experience was getting to see children improve. I was there for about 3 months, and I got to see the same children come in 2-3 times a week. It was amazing to see improvement over time. On one of my last days at Sprouts, a little boy with Spina Bifida was able to make it through the entire obstacle course on his own for the first time, without the help from his crutches, “Crutch and Wrutch”. It was pretty amazing to watch. 

Without the support from the Summer Funded Experience program, I would not have been able to volunteer at Sprouts Therapy. I am so grateful to have gained experience in the pediatric therapy field; it has definitely helped me to hone in on what I want to do in my future career. Prior to this experience, I was only thinking of attending a Physical Therapy graduate program, but now I also want to look into Occupational Therapy. Unfortunately, I was not able to take any pictures of/with the children, but I have included the link to their website, which includes some great images. http://www.sproutstherapy.com

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