Emma Stokes with Pippi Longstocking at the congress closing ceremony

The best of times: thoughts from WCPT Congress

By Emma Stokes, WCPT President

It’s hard to believe it’s all over. The WCPT Congress 2015 in Singapore was the culmination of four years’ planning and consideration and what a success it was. Thank you to the 3,500 physical therapists from around the world who took part.

The last few weeks have left me with so much to think about.  First, there was the WCPT General Meeting that preceded the congress. It brings together all WCPT’s member organisations, and each time I attend I love it more. This year WCPT admitted new organisations from Albania, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Congo, Mongolia, Montenegro, Niger, Saint Lucia and Togo. There was also the small matter of an election for WCPT President and Vice President. Even though there was only one candidate for each position, I have to admit to being nervous as I left the room and awaited the outcome.
Then there were the WCPT Awards – and how wonderful it was to be able to celebrate such achievement in the profession at a special dinner. 
As for the congress itself, I am always overwhelmed by the number of physical therapists who attend from all around the world and the sense of global professional unity that arises. One highlight for me was the opening ceremony, where the scale and joy of congress is at its most obvious. The colour, dancing, the excitement were super and I was so pleased to see the dragon at the end because I have loved the congress dragon motif. 
Other personal highlights were my involvement in an excellent focused symposium on advocacy, meetings with WCPT Future – our new network for students and early career physical therapists – and the social media networking sessions where we encouraged the profession to be more active in social media. All of these are areas which I hope to develop further during my presidency.
A session that stood out for me was the WCPT Futures Forum where five motivational speakers shared their vision for the future of physical therapy. What I loved about the event, which was attended by 130 physical therapists, was the variety of ideas and thoughts that will inform our vision for the profession as we move forward. 
But the session also gave me a very personal perspective. One of the speeches was made by Stefan Jutterdal, President of Fysioterapeuterna, the Swedish Physiotherapy Association. Stefan referred to the fictional Swedish book character Pippi Longstocking and how physical therapists should adopt some of her characteristics – responsibility, courage and imagination. Later, I received a special gift from the Swedish Association, a Pippi Longstocking doll, along with the wish that I too will be responsible, courageous and imaginative.
I can only say that I will. The gift, and all the warm wishes of support I received in Singapore, meant a great deal to me.  It was great to have my partner, John, and my parents at the congress to see what the global physical therapy community is like when we are together. You did not disappoint me: you embraced my family into your warmth and sense of celebration. I am proud to be a physiotherapist and part of the global community.

Related to this story