Learning should be positive experience
Therapist works with children, adults in Rankin Inlet

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Feb 24/99) - The Rankin Inlet Community Wellness Centre acquired the services of occupational therapist Kim Barthel to come to the hamlet and evaluate children with different learning challenges and provide their school and the centre with recommendations on how to help the children learn in a more effective way.

Barthel also consults with adult learners and says she works with people who have special needs in the way they learn, interact with people and move. This marks the third trip to Rankin for the therapist, whose training is in the areas of learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder.

"While here, the Community Learning Centre asked me to look at how learning difficulty transfers into adult life and how sometimes our self-esteem, self-worth or confidence in learning can interfere with our effectiveness in taking a chance in learning," says Barthel.

"As a professional I have worked in many different environments and countries, and Rankin Inlet has been one of my favourite experiences in that the people here have been very open to exploring new avenues and the facilities are very high quality."

Barthel says among her recommendations will be the providing of different kinds of strategies, techniques, exercises, games and activities which focus a child's or an adult's ability to learn in one particular area.

"It's always a case of evaluation, of looking at what is and isn't working and then putting together specifics for improvement. Learning should be an absolutely positive and fun experience so people feel good on the inside about what they're doing."

The Community Learning Centre's adult educator, Bob Spensley, says his staff was very happy Barthel came to Rankin and was able to conduct a seminar at the centre.

"It's not every day we get a break from our normal routine and an opportunity to reflect on how we learn and think, what hangups we all have, how we get around them and how we can better understand what other people may be going through," says Spensley.

"The big goal is to work more co-operatively in understanding ourselves first and then understanding what other people might be going through as well. I had an opportunity to spend some time with Kim and get to know her and she's a woman with many gifts."

While Spensley classes Barthel's visit as a huge success, he says that's not always the case with visiting professionals or specialists.

"It's interesting, there's really mixed feelings. Some people come up and it's not as successful as others. There are some very special people who have really given a lot and learned a lot and Kim is one of them.

"I think a heightened sense of awareness and respect is a common characteristic of those who come here and are more successful."