PT Month Wrap Up: Jan's Story
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
BAC Director and physical therapist, Jan Wade, wraps up our month-long celebration of PT month by sharing her story!
"In May of 1991, I received an invitation to teach English in an orphanage for the summer in Taiwan. I was just about to graduate from college with majors in political science and journalism, and my dreams of becoming the next Cokie Roberts had not yet materialized.
The Onesiphorus Children’s Home was home to 40 children in a farming community just outside the southeastern city of Taitung. About 10 years prior to my arrival, there was an outbreak of polio in the surrounding communities. Many impoverished families abandoned their children due to the disability caused by polio - often by the side of the road or in public places.
Over the course of the summer, I taught English but also became increasingly involved with the kids’ therapy appointments at the nearby hospital. There, an older man known as the rehab director took me under his wing. Despite the massive language barrier, he showed me the ropes of stretching, gait training, and functional mobility training with children whose leg muscles had been ravaged by the virus.
I was hooked. Having played sports through college, I was familiar with physical therapy for athletes looking to return to sport. But here, a whole new world emerged. I watched kids who had been scooting on the floor to get around take their first steps with lofstrand crutches. I watched the rehab director make adaptive equipment for the kids out of anything he could find. Back at the orphanage pool, I spent hours teaching kids to swim. The orphanage in Taitung changed the course of my life. I returned home knowing I would reset my plan with the goal of becoming a physical therapist.
Twenty-eight years later, I feel luckier than ever to be a pediatric PT. I love knowing how our bodies work. I love the puzzle of matching a child’s personality to a PT activity so goals can be met faster. I love watching my fellow BAC clinicians in their element and I love the joy that reigns in our BAC gyms.
The children we work with…YOUR children...are extraordinary. Thank you for sharing them with us!”