3 July 2017: For the first time in its seven-year history, two University of Canberra students have been presented the Gabby Robberds Scholarship, giving them the opportunity to help children with cerebral palsy.
Master of Physiotherapy student Hannah Martin and Master of Occupational Therapy student Jessica Callaghan recently undertook clinical placements at Cerebral Palsy Alliance locations in Maitland and Canberra.
It is the first time the organisation has awarded the scholarship to two students. This year, it was also extended to include students studying occupational therapy as well as physiotherapy.
The scholarship was created in honour of two-year-old Gabby Robberds who had cerebral palsy and passed away in 2010.
Ms Callaghan said the scholarship was a fantastic opportunity to gain more experience in two areas of her interest.
“I’ve always had an interest in working in paediatrics and the more exposure I’ve had to the disability sector, the more I’ve realised that it’s something that I’d really like to work in as well,” she said.
Ms Callaghan said she enjoyed the learning opportunities that the placement provided and getting to work with different families. Ms Callaghan said she hoped to work in disability paediatrics in a rural environment in the future, as services are quite limited in those areas.
Ms Martin added that she too would like to pursue a career in disability paediatrics as a direct result of her placement.
“Cerebral palsy affects not only children but their families as well, so being part of the massive chain that creates a difference in their lives was really exciting and incredibly rewarding,” Ms Martin said.
“My favourite experience was participating in the disability kinder gym. Seeing the younger children with cerebral palsy being able to participate in such an important experience and have fun at the same time was really wonderful.”
The students met Gabby’s family at a ceremony held at the University on 6 April, where Cerebral Palsy Alliance patron Margaret Reid AO presented them with the scholarship. They were also awarded funds to cover their expenses during their placement.
Cerebral Palsy Alliance fundraising and event support manager Nathalie Maconachie said the scholarship has also provided a pathway for some recipients to find work in the sector.
“Melissa and Shannon are both dedicated and hard-working employees and provide valuable assistance to people with a disability and their families,” Ms Maconachie said.