Community Involvement

CHEAR Program

If success is defined as making the difference in the life of a child, then the Children’s Hospital Equipment for Adaptive Recreation (CHEAR) Program at Boston Children’s Hospital has far surpassed success and continues to provide a much needed service to children and families needing creative options for adaptive recreation, participation, and inclusion in life. The concept and community need for this program is to provide clinical expertise, access, and funding of adaptive recreational equipment to children and their families with special health care needs. Often times, children with disabilities are unable to participate in community based recreational activities such as sports, music, art, social clubs, and peer groups because of their disability. The Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Services Department has identified children who need options to maximize independent function and creative adaptation to partake in sport or activity. We were able to match the abilities of children motivated or interested in movement or participation in adaptive recreation with access to adaptive equipment to enhance mobility and participation.

The CHEAR Program will continue to partner with local adaptive recreation programs to assist children and their families in obtaining adaptive recreational equipment not otherwise available to them through the programs themselves, medical insurance funding, or independent financial means. Children may continue to be referred by parents, schools, physicians, and local therapists. Ongoing financial support allows us to continue these efforts and helps us discover ways to create adaptive recreation for children with special needs.

Backpack Awareness

September is the American Occupational Therapy Association’s National Backpack Awareness Month. Each September, Boston Children’s Hospital occupational therapists at the Boston, Waltham, Peabody, and Lexington locations provide education to the community on backpack awareness and safety. Occupational therapists educate members of the community to teach others how to properly choose the best backpack for their size, pack the backpack, lift the backpack, and how to wear the backpack to avoid pain and injury related from heavy backpacks. The occupational therapists even have a scale to weigh backpacks to inform members of the community if their backpack is within the acceptable weight limit of 10 percent of a person’s body weight.

Go Baby Go

We have had the wonderful opportunity to partner with Beaver Camp in Chestnut Hill, Mass., over the past few summers for Go Baby Go! camp. At this camp middle school students work with staff to modify power ride-on toy cars for children with mobility impairments who are followed at Boston Children’s Hospital. They go through the process of interviewing children who would benefit from the cars and their families to find out what aspects of the cars would be needed. After this the design process starts. The campers design aspects of seating and access, as well as style for each individual. There have been amazingly creative ideas such as toys that can be accessed on the cars, favorite songs playing through the sound system, and seating made out of various materials such as pool noodles for support.

This camp has been a great opportunity for all involved. It is always inspiring to see kids helping kids and gaining understanding of each other. Through this camp the PT/OT department has been able to help facilitate the interactions between the campers and their clients, as well as facilitate a better understanding of what is may be like to have a mobility impairment and ways to help those that do. Since 2018 the camp has grown and has been able to modify more than 11 cars for children to take home with them.

Autism Outreach at the Martha Eliot Center

SPARK, sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, has the mission of speeding up research and advancing understanding of autism by building the nation’s largest autism study. SPARK collaborates with the Autism Spectrum Center to host seasonal events at Boston Children’s Hospital. The occupational therapy department has been fortunate enough to partake in several of these events. Occupational therapists staff a booth with resources to educate families on occupational therapy services at Boston Children’s and the role of occupational therapy in working with children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Additionally, the occupational therapists host arts and crafts projects, such as creating sensory meters, and provide families with resources on sensory integration.