Friday, March 20, 2015

Meet the April 2015 Team {Keely}

Hello everyone!! My name is Keely O’Dell and I am thrilled to be joining the SuperKids, Asia team.  My first experience with SuperKids was the summer after I graduated from physical therapy school at Duke University in 2009.  A classmate andI traveled with two others to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  In the seven weeks we spent there, our efforts were focused on caregiver and volunteer education to support and increase developmentally supportive care to all the children, especially those with disabilities.  It was such an amazing experience early in my professional career… and I absolutely fell in love!

Caregiver Training Program-- Ethiopia


Since then, I have traveled to Central and South America on several occasions with SuperKids.  In 2010-2011, I spent 8 months working with children and caregivers in institutions in Cali and Medellin, Colombia as well as San Jose, Costa Rica. With the help of my visiting volunteers/therapists/friends, we were able to provide equipment and orthotics for many children. We provided volunteer, caregiver and staff/administrator trainings.  We provided direct therapy to many children and helped the staff create treatment plans to continue the activities after we left. We implemented work programs for teens in the institution.  Throughout this year, though I tried to leave more than I took, I was definitely the big winner.  The amazing resilience, personality, will power, happiness, sadness, and shear force of the children I met was so inspiring—it changed my entire perception of childhood, families, life and  love.

Looking straight and tall in my new braces--Cali, Colombia

For details on the amazing work we did, and the many adventures I had during my time there, please feel free to check out my blog.

I have been back to Colombia on a few shorter trips since that time. On our most recent trip last August, we went to Bogota and met over 30 waiting kids looking for forever families.  For more information on these amazing kiddos, please see the Colombia Waiting Child program.

Between SuperKids trips, I completed a pediatric physical therapy residency in Conway, Arkansas and have had amazing experiences in a variety of PT settings: inpatient, outpatient, home-health, hippotherapy and now I am working in early intervention.  I also am currently finishing a master’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology—with an emphasis on examining the impact of out-of-family-care on child development.

Animal Sounds are Fun... So is Evaluating These Awesome Kiddos-- Bogota, Colombia

I have learned so much in my academic and “real-life” experiences thus far, and I look forward to learning more from the amazing crew that has made SuperKids, Asia such an successful program through the years!!