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Scholarship helps promote human rights

Queen’s University program supports equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

A Queen’s University program focusing on disability-inclusive development is one of 20 university programs to receive funding from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) program.

The funding will allow the International Centre for the Advancement of Community-Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) to support occupational therapy and physical therapy students to participate in internships abroad and international students in community-based rehabilitation programs to train at Queen’s.

“International fieldwork learning is something that the occupational therapy program at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy recognizes as a means to equip student occupational therapists with skills around cultural competence, enhanced problem-solving skills, and awareness of global health in context,” says Susanne Murphy, a lecturer in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.

[Shirin Ataollahi-Eshqoor]
Shirin Ataollahi-Eshqoor makes jewellery with a member of the Pamaoja Tunaweza Boys and Girls Club. (Supplied photo)

Both domestic and international students’ activities will be linked to ICACBR’s ongoing community-based rehabilitation projects, which provide training and support to equalize opportunities and promote the human rights of people with disabilities.

“This specific internship program has been running since 2014 and is a continuation of funding from the QES program,” says program leader Heather Aldersey (Rehabilitation Therapy). “This funding enables sustainability and continuity of student efforts abroad – when one group of students leave, there is another group incoming to continue the projects the previous group started at the partner sites.”

With the grant received in 2014, the ICACBR supported 18 Queen’s occupational therapy students to hold clinical and community development placements in India and Tanzania. It also supported a Canadian master’s student to conduct research in Bangladesh, and enabled four community leaders (two from Ghana, one from Nigeria, and one from India) to complete PhDs in the Queen’s School of Rehabilitation Therapy.

In India, students worked to increase community resources for people with spinal cord injuries and improve knowledge about spinal cord injuries for clients and families. In Tanzania, they worked to increase employment skills for street youth as well as employment opportunities in the community.

“My dream of pursuing a PhD education at Queen’s University would not have been possible without QES support,” says PhD candidate Atul Jaiswal. “It provided me with an international experience in the rehabilitation science field and its current advancements in terms of practice and research. This learning enhanced my overall knowledge and gave me tools to conduct research that builds my academic career and is meaningful to the people in our society.”

Through this latest grant, the ICACBR will support 18 new occupational therapy and physical therapy internships abroad, as well as two new incoming PhD students.

“The funding that supported my occupational therapy placement in Moshi, Tanzania left me with a broader perspective of the world, a lot of personal growth, and an eagerness to give back to communities in need,” says Molly Flindall-Hanna, who spent several months in Tanzania working with youth in the Boys and Girls Club. “An important lesson for me was learning to face challenges proactively – the challenge many communities face in accessing resources, the challenge of systemic barriers, and the challenge of making a larger difference, one small step at a time.”

The QES program fosters a dynamic community of young global leaders that create lasting impacts at home and abroad. Through professional experiences, the program provides international education opportunities for discovery and inquiry.

For more information, visit the QES website.