AKA The One Love Day service based in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia for children living with profound physical and learning disabilities

Staff and children at The One Heart Wholeness Centre
Staff and children at The One Heart Wholeness Centre

Our day......

At The One Heart Wholeness Centre we offer a range of therapeutic activities to children living with a variety of profound disabilities ranging from hydrocephalus to cerebral palsy and autism. Our children are aged between 3 years old and 18 years old. The children are escorted into the centre by bus where they are given a healthy breakfast,  a shower and a change of clothes, after enjoying  a full body massage. After lunch the children are separated into 4 small groups and are supported to participate in a choice of therapies including physiotherapy, music therapy, water therapy and relaxation sessions in the sensory room. Once their afternoon activity is over the children are given a snack and made ready to be escorted home. All of the children are non verbal,  doubly incontinent and unable to walk. The staff team sets individual Aims & Objectives for each child which the staff team then work towards during each therapeutic session. Our aim is for the children to be the best that they can be and live their best lives.

Therapies offered at the day service

Our volunteer physiotherapist Gebre
Our volunteer physiotherapist Gebre

Details of the therapies offered here at The One Heart Wholeness Centre

  1. PHYSIOTHERAPY Gebre, our volunteer physiotherapist, has created an individual physiotherapy plan for each child, tailored to help them meet the Aims & Objectives set by the staff team and relevant to improving their mobility. Each plan includes a projection plan based on the disability presented and the assumed progress that each child could make once regularly using their own physiotherapy plan.  The staff at the day service work, using these plans, to help each child improve their mobility and the dexterity in their joints. At the staff monthly meetings these plans are reviewed and adapted, using the projected plan created by Gebre, to meet the progress each child has made, new Aims & Objectives are set and their individual physiotherapy plans are adapted accordingly. 
  2. WATER THERAPY  During water therapy a child is immersed in the water and is better able to perform exercises. Water reduces the pressure on bones and joints which enable the child to move freely. This benefits the child by strengthening muscle tone, improving coordination and increasing endurance. It is a great way to increase range of motion & agility . It is one of the best therapy tools available because the child does not have to worry about gravity. Water therapy is beneficial for children that are both hypotonic or hypertonic, movement becomes much easier for them , they have increased body awareness, their joints relax and they have improved flexibility and all while they are having fun. During water therapy the children follow the same physiotherapy Aims & Objectives as set for their on land exercises. 
  3. MUSIC THERAPY is a fun way for children living with special needs to improve the dexterity in their upper joints and enhance their sensory motor skills. There is substantial evidence to prove that this therapy helps increase attention span and auditory processing. It can improve behavior, language and cognitive functioning. It has been proven to decrease self stimulation and agitation, increase socialization and enhance sensory motor skills. During music therapy the children listen to a range of Amharic & English children's songs and using hand on hand technique the children are encouraged to make their own music using wooden instruments donated by Layidou; a French organisation that support the project by donating sensory equipment for use in therapy. 
  4. SENSORY ROOM Time in a sensory room helps children improve their visual, auditory and tactile processing as well as fine and gross motor skills. By providing a sense of calm and comfort, sensory rooms help children learn to self-regulate their behaviours , which ultimately improves focus. The sensory room serves two main purposes; it is a safe space for the children to relax and can be used to encourage the children to follow light patterns whilst stimulating them visually. The sensory room is a powerful tool for stimulating their senses.

Autistic Unit

The Autistic Classroom

Many of the children currently using the day service have autism but no learning disability and therefore have the capacity for academic studies. The OHWC will open a separate classroom to accommodate such children where they can learn comfortably at their own pace, where they can abscond to a safe place should they feel the need and where they will learn, using equipment specially designed to support autistic children, to be the best that they can be. 

They will be joined by several other children living with autism who have been excluded from mainstream education because of their need to abscond. Children living with autism are generally misunderstood and treated as if they lack intelligence but many such children are savants; great artists and great musicians able to master skills almost immediately after witnessing the skill being displayed. 

The classroom will be designed to allow each child access to the door should they need to leave. Ear defenders will be available to enable the children to block out unwanted noise should the environment become over stimulating. The class will be run by a qualified Special Needs teacher and a fully trained teaching assistant. 

Specialized equipment for children living with autism has been donated by Layidou , a French organisation committed to supporting the project by donating equipment for use during therapy sessions.

Weynshet loves reading to her doll Tigist
Weynshet loves reading to her doll Tigist

Meet our children

Here we introduce you to our current beneficiaries, our children, enjoy

Barbara Mena Okugbeni