held in Hong Kong , 5-8 December 2010
– Report by Sister Joan O’Connor, Honorary Conductor SAHK,
who was a member of the Scientific & Programme Committee of the Congress
The 7th World Congress on Conductive Education (CE) began in grand style on Sunday, 5 December last, with clashing cymbals and beating drums as the children of SAHK (formerly The Spastics Association of Hong Kong) performed the lion dance at the gala dinner. Selina Tsang, Hong Kong’s first lady was the guest of honour, and although she doesn’t do speeches she was more than happy to give out ‘thank you’ souvenirs to our generous sponsors of the event. She is reported to have said ‘it is a good way to encourage them to continue to give to the cause’.
Throughout the dinner there was live entertainment courtesy of the children and clients of the Association. Among the many performances was the Ribbon Dance and Taekwondo. It was a great night as friends from around the world renewed acquaintances. And of course we old timers in the Association congratulated ourselves that our work using CE, which began in the early 80’s, had culminated in our dream of hosting the 7th World Congress on CE.
Entertainment of the Congress participants was ably supplied by a representave troupe of the children of SAHK.
Dotting the eyes of the lion is a very important moment in the Lion Dance – done here by Mrs Selina Tsang – symbolizing the opening of the eyes or ‘the giving of life’ to the lion.
Below, a tame little lion appears beneath the attire!
|The Association has come a long way since its humble beginnings in a borrowed room in a Resettlement Estate to being one of the biggest rehabilitation organizations in Hong Kong. The pioneers started with nine cerebral palsied children. Today it has 58 service units and serves over 6000 children/clients annually from zero to adults in its early intervention centres, pre-schools, schools and adult workshops and hostels. As Supervisor of the SAHK Conductive Teaching Centre, I have all through my years on the Mainland, sent trainees down to Hong Kong to learn more advanced skills.|
EAST MEETS WEST
The Congress was officially opened the next morning by the Minister for Labour in the Convention and Exhibition Centre (venue of the 1997 handover to China). A most formal affair including the lion dance and ritual of ‘dotting the eyes of the lion.’ A hard act to follow, and I felt quite nervous as I ascended the podium to chair the first plenary session of the day. From there on everything took off and went without a hitch.
We hit the five-hundred participant target representing twenty-four countries around the world. A great response given the recent worldwide recession. About a hundred came from China Mainland. Over the two days the scientific programme was packed with seven plenary lectures, one hundred and twelve presentations, sixty poster presentations plus plenary discussions. I revelled in the bombardment of knowledge and research outcomes, but the intensity of the two days meant there was little time for long chats with old friends especially my friends from the Mainland.
The most poignant sessions were those led by parents of cerebral palsied children describing their pain, and difficulties as they faced the never ending challenges of caring for a special needs child, and how CE gave them so much hope, and a whole new positive and can-do way of looking at their child. Their courage and fortitude touched everybody in the audience and many of us were reduced to tears. We also listened, riveted to a cerebral palsied sufferer from Germany telling us he would never have been able to climb onto the podium and stand talking to us unaided without the years he spent in the Institute in Budapest learning to speak, stand and walk independently. Moreover, he did not shy away from telling us ‘hands off, don’t be too protective, just let us run our own lives’.
Professor Kozma, President of the International Peto Association said it was the best congress ever. Thanks goes to the organizational skills and efficiency of SAHK staff who worked tirelessly for months, weeks and days in advance to make sure everything went according to plan. Munich, Germany was awarded the next congress three years down the road.
The grand finale Tuesday night was the famous harbour cruise complete with buffet dinner, live band and dancing. Everyone was in party mood and let off steam on the dance floor so much so the dancing spilled onto the carpeted dining area. We finished with Auld Lang Syne circling an Australian cerebral palsied couple in wheelchairs. They never left the dance floor all night displaying their wheelchair dexterity with great glee and gaiety.
Throughout the dinner there was live entertainment courtesy of the children and clients of the Association. Among the many performances was the Ribbon Dance and Taekwondo. It was a great night as friends from around the world renewed acquaintances. And of course we old timers in the Association congratulated ourselves that our work using CE, which began in the early 80’s, had culminated in our dream of holding the CE World Congress.
Next day, Wednesday saw the delegates visiting many HK centres of the Association as well as departing on tours to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Dongguan to see CE practice on the Mainland. I joined the group to Guangzhou. The night we arrived we joined a river cruise. Guangzhou at night was magic still decked in its Asian Games 2010 party attire. On the way to the Orphanage the next morning it was hard to believe the impressive makeover this now high rise city had undergone…..all stops pulled out for the games.
In the Orphanage there were warm hugs all around as I met up with some of my trainees from many years ago. What service and what inspiration, day after day, year in year out caring for and serving with devotion the country’s most needy and abandoned children. Deo gratias for these loving and wonderful people who staff Orphanages up and down the length and breadth of this vast country.
|At the launch of Mrs Anita Tatlow’s book Conductive Education for Children and Adults with Cerebral Palsy (Chinese & English editions)||Wei Guo Rong (ctr), who has done extensive CE work for children in her homeland, China Mainland, browses through the book|
Participants’ feedback upon returning home from the Congress (1)
|The ‘old timers’ of the SAHK Association!||Sister Joan presents a gift to Prof. Schaffhauser, Director of the Peto Institute, Budapest|
Participants’ feedback upon returning home from the Congress (2)
|Hong Kong Harbour by night||Congress participants enjoying the cruise|