What initially drew you to choose a career helping improve the lives of children with disabilities?
Since childhood I “sensed” people’s feelings and attitudes, things about a person that weren’t verbally expressed. Psychology became my passion in college years, but I still was not totally satisfied. I met a pediatric Occupational Therapist whose influence and counsel were so significant that I changed majors, university, and professional course. OT became the bridge between psychology and the art and science for practical and functional interventions into a person’s daily life.
Have you been touch personally in this area?
You should ask how important is waking up every morning. For over 35 years as an Occupational Therapist, I look forward to each work day, to the discovery of children’s potentials, sharing with team members, learning from families, and challenged with each gift in which “problems” are often wrapped. With the support of owner Jon Edenfield, team work, and family involvement evidence occurs every day that miracles happen at GSR.
How long have you worked for Great Strides Rehab and in what capacity(ies)?
I have worked at GSR for 12 years, beginning when the owner had just 2 employees and a clinic about the size of one of our therapy rooms. I serve as staff OT within a team of about 50 professionals to include ABA, Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, Physical Therapy, Music Therapy, Nutrition, and administrative staff across settings to include public and private school systems, medically complex outpatient settings, and the GSR center-based private school and preschool. Watching GSR grow with such excellence over these years is beyond exciting.
Tell us about your history and career background.
I have been fortunate to work as an Occupational Therapist in many different types of settings to include university teaching hospitals providing therapy in both neonatal intensive care units (NICU) and pediatric intensive care units (PICU), a cerebral palsy rehab facility, childrens hospitals, school systems, and private practice. These facilities supported professional activities to include grant writing to procure NICU related NIDCAP staff training and a computer technology grant from Easter Seals. I taught Level II and Level I OT and OT Assistant fieldwork students for 20 years from which I probably learned more than I taught. I worked on multi-disciplinary medical teams to include ECMO ( based on a heart-lung bypass machine), a post heart transplant feeding program, neurology and orthopedic rhizotomy treatment team, and a radiology department swallow study team. I have published one national pediatric research paper on the play of children with disabilities and one state wide adult-related research paper on sensation restoration. I have presented papers at national and state conferences related to children’s head injury, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and fieldwork supervision. And last but not least, I have been fortunate to serve with distinguished colleagues lobbying for children’s healthcare.
Inform us on your educational accomplishments: Degrees earned, Certifications, any related Organization memberships?
Children and families needs are multi-dimensional as it is for all of our lives. I am fortunate to have received post-professional certifications related to my passion with Sensory Integration, Neuro-Developmental Training (NDT), and multiple trainings with pediatric feeding and swallowing. As with an iceberg, only 15% is visible above water and 85% is underwater unseen. These advanced trainings have helped give insight into the 85% of what in not seen in children on first look, especially when combined with a GSR team approach.
What do you enjoy most about working at Great Strides?
Getting to know and meaningfully engage with families and children is a profound privilege at GSR. The depth of family engagement within a team approach at GSR surpasses any work setting in which I have worked.
What is one fun fact most people don’t know about you or something that makes you smile?
Balance with work, play, rest, and leisure is a basic tenet of Occupational Therapy. When not working, I ride my Harley Davidson Sportster, scuba dive, or just work in the yard and garden. My husband Wayne Powell, who is an electrical engineer by profession, and I were married underwater 20 years ago, so we often combine a motorcycle and scuba diving trip in the Florida Keys. We just bought an RV and made our first cross country trip to Arizona and Utah, motorcycles in tow.
What is your favorite inspirational quote or motto?
I have a few years “under my belt” and more than one guiding quote. But for today, here goes a blended version: Live well, laugh often and insanely, love truly, live in prayer, and forgive quickly. And work like you don’t need the money, love like you have never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching. But a favorite is Matthew 19:26: “With God all things are possible.”