Bushra Habib / Silhouette Staff

Experiential learning in the greater Hamilton community doesn’t just benefit students, it also creates the potential for long lasting community legacies. Mac H2OPE clinic, a proposed project by students in the graduate School of Rehabilitation Science, recently received funds from the Forward With Integrity initiative to do just that.

Sarah Wojkowski, Lori Letts, Vanina Dal Bello Haas, Genevieve Hladysh, Lorie Shimmel and Julie Richardson started the Helping Hamiltonians through Occupational and Physiotherapy Engagement (H2OPE) clinic. In partnership with the YMCA and other community organizations, it aims to provide occupational and physiotherapy services to Hamilton residents.

“As many of our clients will have chronic health conditions, our students will work with these individuals to help them manage their condition in the best way possible,” said Sarah Wojkowski, the Director of Clinical Education for the Masters of Physiotherapy program.

The Mac H2OPE clinic will be located at the YMCA downtown on James Street, encouraging a deeper engagement and commitment to residents well outside the McMaster bubble.

“Initially, our project will provide opportunities for graduate MSc (Physiotherapy) and MSc (Occupational Therapy) students,” said Wojkowski. She added that there could possibly be opportunities for undergraduates in the future.

Financial support is a key priority for any project, especially those with far-reaching aspirations such as H2OPE. The group received $5000 from the FWI Fund, but that will not be enough to cover all the costs.

Wojkowski said the funds will go toward “purchasing basic equipment like a height-adjustable assessment bed, which will support assessment and treatment of clients.”

The School of Rehabilitation Science is also supporting the development of Mac H2OPE. The YMCA on James Street has donated space, exercise equipment and access to the pool, allowing the clinic keep start up costs low.

Some obstacles still remain. The biggest is that individuals may not be able to afford physiotherapy or occupational therapy.

“We are still working to develop a plan for how our care will be delivered in a way that will allow as many individuals who cannot currently access services to have the opportunity at Mac H2OPE,” said Wojkowski.

“In general, we would like the McMaster community bring hope to Hamiltonians through providing health care that many would not have been able to receive without the Mac H2OPE clinic,” said Wojkowski.

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