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ICACBR celebrates 25th anniversary

  • Published Mon Nov 7th 2016

    Researchers, students and faculty from the Faculty of Health Sciences and the School of Rehabilitation Therapy gathered on Oct. 27 to celebrate the milestone 25th anniversary of the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR). The event featured past and current members of the centre, and presented an opportunity to look back on past projects as well as ongoing efforts to expand community based rehabilitation (CBR) practices in communities around the world.

    “Just as (founder and former executive director of the ICACBR) Malcolm Peat and the other founders envisioned, the Centre has advanced the knowledge and practice of CBR, and has provided a platform for training the next generation of practitioners and researchers,” says Terry Krupa, Professor and Associate Director (Research and Post-Professional Programs) in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. “The Centre has demonstrated how the resources of a university can be harnessed and structured to make a real difference in the world, responding in a timely, effective and collaborative manner to issues of disability, health and well-being in low resource settings, and in settings impacted by conflict, political upheaval and natural disasters.”

    The centre currently manages three projects – the Access to Health & Education for all Disabled Children & Youth (AHEAD) project in Bangladesh, the Queen Elizabeth II Scholarships for Excellence in International Community Based Rehabilitation, and a participatory project on stigma and intellectual disability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The AHEAD program works in concert with the Centre for the Paralyzed (CRP) and Bangladesh Health Professionals Institute (BHPI) to improve access to health and education services for children and youth as a means of reducing poverty and promoting inclusion. The QE II project supports Canadian OT and RHBS students to research and train in Bangladesh, India and Tanzania, as well as provides opportunities for CBR leaders from low- and middle-income countries to pursue PhDs in RHBS at Queen’s. The Congo project is focused on reducing the stigma around intellectual disabilities in the capital, Kinshasa. 

    “The anniversary is an important milestone, in that it marks 25 years of international collaboration with people with disabilities, their families, and the organizations that serve them,” says Heather Aldersey, Director of the AHEAD Project and a Queen’s National Scholar in International Community Based Rehabilitation. “The ICACBR has always placed great emphasis on working directly with communities on issues of greatest priority to them. The future will be no different, and we will continue to work in close collaboration with our partners to build community capacity for inclusion.”

    In addition to the centre’s ongoing projects, ICACBR researchers have played a crucial role in the development of CBR as a tool to provide rehabilitation services in conflict and post-conflict zones. The centre was a leading player in post-war health and social reconstruction after the conflicts in the Balkans, providing training for over 500 local healthcare practitioners and creating over 40 accessible CBR health centres. Over 200 researchers and practitioners – including professionals from the Canadian rehabilitation and disability communities, as well as Queen’s students and faculty – have been involved in ICACBR projects and research.

    “The 25th anniversary is a really great opportunity for both the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and for ICACBR, because it’s a chance to recognize the progression from the early work the centre did that was so foundational to development of community-based rehabilitation internationally,” says Rosemary Lysaght, Associate Director (Occupational Therapy Program), School of Rehabilitation Therapy. “There’s much to reflect on from our past as we look ahead to the next 25 years. There’s so much opportunity and still, sadly, so much need in the world. The ICACBR provides a lot of leadership and it’s a real opportunity to solidify how we move forward as the early leaders retire and as new opportunities arise.”