Nishchal Shakya from Nepal (right) pictured with Gillian Webb, Chair of the WCPT Asia Western Pacific region, at the 2015 General Meeting

Looking back, looking forward

By Emma Stokes, WCPT President

New Year brings with it reflections on the year that has past and the one to come. As I look back at the seven months that have flown by since many of us gathered for the WCPT Congress, I think what exciting times these have been for me and the profession globally.
But it has also been a year when global emergencies – both natural disasters and those created by humans – have had a devastating impact on the lives of many people and communities. The photograph above represents the bravery of the President of the Nepal Physiotherapy Association, Nishchal Shakya, who travelled to Singapore to attend the WCPT General Meeting straight after the earthquake hit Nepal. The global physical therapy community responded with messages, support and encouragement and continues to do so. 
Physical therapists make a real difference in the aftermath of such disasters and WCPT supports them with a range of disaster management information. We’ll shortly be adding to this with a new resource document written jointly with Handicap International. 
The world has continued to be rocked by terrorist attacks that claim lives and cause life-changing injuries. I have been inspired by the story of Gill Hicks, a survivor of the terrorist bombings in London on 7th July 2005.  Gill inspires others to “choose choice” and is a peace “actionist”.  Her story demonstrates the power of PTs to enable people who have suffered life-changing injuries to live their lives fully and independently, and Gill was an ambassador for the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s 2015 “I Love my Physio” campaign. The story of her relationship with physiotherapists is powerfully told in an APA video
More than one million migrants and refugees crossed into the EU during 2015. I have no doubt that among them are PTs, PT students and future PTs. I am also sure that many of those displaced people need our services. It would be very interesting to hear from PTs working with groups or organisations supporting these people. 
WCPT represents the global physical therapy community, and to do so in the best way we can we need to listen to you – you the reader, our member organisations, networks, subgroups and other stakeholders. In 2015 we lived that message with our WCPT Look Forward Together consultation, which has gathered input from over 3000 people. Our final survey is still open, and then we will move to the first iteration of our strategic plan which will also be open for consultation.
We are stronger and better together. One of the key messages drawn from our Futures Forum in Singapore in May 2015 was the need to spread the word about PTs being movement experts wherever we go. I’ve had some fun times asking participants to get moving during the World Health Organization consultation meeting on healthy ageing and at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) Northern Ireland annual lecture in Belfast.
I know that the Swedish Association of Physiotherapists made an explicit effort to include movement within the talks and workshops at their conference, and I’d love to investigate further the way that WCPT might lead a “movement for movement” during 2016. How about WCPT prepares a series of guidelines for conference and meeting organisers on making their events more active? If you’re interested in starting to grow a movement for movement, please let me know.
In the meantime, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a healthy, happy and active year. We have some exciting events in 2016, including the International Neurological Physical Therapy Association conference and the International Organisation of Physical Therapists in Mental Health in March, the IFOMPT conference in July and the WCPT European Region congress hosted by the CSP in November.
And my New Year’s resolution… be more active and produce this blog more regularly. So please do comment, reach out with ideas and volunteer to write a guest blog.
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