Through an immersive summer course offered by the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, students from IU and the University of Belgrade in Serbia are learning more about how children with disabilities are supported in different cultures.
“International Comparative Exchange: Services for Children with Disabilities” was first offered in the summer of 2016, when six IU students traveled to Serbia to observe the Milan Petrovic School programs and other
institutions. This was followed by a trip back to Indiana where the Serbian students observed similar programs at Bradford Woods. Bradford Woods is one of the most accessible camps in the world for children with disabilities. This summer, 11 IU students took part in the Serbia program.
“At Bradford Woods, I saw the same sense of family that I found impressive in the facilities in Serbia,” writes Jackie DuMont, a recreational therapy major at IU’s School of Public Health and adapted recreation program
instructor at Bradford Woods. “Ultimately, I believe Serbia and America both have a lot we can learn from each other, and it is trips like this that allow such learning to take place.”
Cedomir Stanojevic, of Novi Sad, Serbia, is an instructor and therapist for equine-assisted programs at the Milan Petrovic School. He’s spending the summer at Bradford Woods as an equine assisted therapy and outdoor instructor. “I’m working on a cross-cultural, international project with Shay and IU that explores the psychological benefits of equine assisted therapy has on clients with autism,” he said. “I’m learning a lot that I’ll be able to take home with me.” The program will be tested in 2018 at the Milan Petrovic School program in Serbia and at Agape Therapeutic Riding, Inc. at Bradford Woods. It will be one of the first to be offered in Serbia, as well as to be tested across cultures.
Shay Dawson, director of Bradford Woods and co-leader of the International Comparative Exchange course with IU Bryan P. McCormick, said he and McCormick were inspired to create the class by their own international experiences and the start of a new Pediatric Health Institute in the School of Public Health.
“By doing this in partnership with students and therapists from both cultures, we have all grown to see that professionals and kids with health conditions are more similar than they are different,” Dawson said. “The
passion for helping others is a unifying theme that transcends cultural differences.”
Read Shay and Jacqueline’s blogs on their experiences with the IU-Serbia program: