Hello, McFly.

June 25, 2010

Thank you, MJ.

I can’t believe it’s been a year.  I took him with me to Ghana in March. 🙂

June 5, 2010

Since you’re here..

Somehow it’s been decided that tonight’s entry will include the 10 blogs I’ve checked most recently.  Here they are, from most to least recent.  I wonder what this says about me.

Lakers Nation.  Three more.

Ill Doctrine.  Jay Smooth is so great at Debo-ing folks with his words.

What Claudia Wore.  Hilarious, if you were ever an avid BSC fan.

2dopeboyz.  The gold standard when it comes to hip hop bloggery.

The Hundreds.  Anytime I’m starting to feel way too cool, I check Bobby’s blog and it helps to knock me back down a few notches.

Disgrasian.  Calling folks out, all the time.

Shannon Hori.  My cousin is a CBS anchorwoman and an awesome mom.

Nailstah.  My girl Annie has a lot of time on her hands.  Meanwhile I own 2 bottles, total.

Foreign Family. My big brother Mr. 44 lets me live vicariously through his blog.

Science Blog.  It’s exactly what it sounds like, and I love it.

June 2, 2010

I work with children.

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Life — Tags: , , , — marimcfly @ 8:58 pm

…and sometimes, it’s hard to make the transition back to having conversations with adults. The other day, I was coming off a long shift with some of my kids who have autism and need constant cues to act in a socially appropriate manner.

I had to go straight to my part-time gig, where I accidentally told a disgruntled Container Store customer “Sir, we use our inside voice here. Your yelling tells me that you don’t really want me to listen.”

Believe it or not, he actually calmed down, apologized for yelling at me, and let me help him order the (life-or-death-important) container for him.  Thank goodness, because that really could have gone either way.

Anyway, the whole incident made me smile.  More importantly, it didn’t get me fired.  Most importantly, it reminded me of this picture:

June 1, 2010

The Spirit Within.

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Artistic Expression, Life — Tags: — marimcfly @ 4:23 pm

This week in San Pedro, ArtWalk includes the opening of Shay McAtee’s exhibition The Spirit Within: Images of Children on the Autism Spectrum.  I can’t wait.

Opening Reception
June 3, 2010

6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (San Pedro 1st Thursday Art Walk)

Also, by appointment
Shay McAtee  310.200.7413

May 3, 2010

One door closes..

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Life, Obsessions, Travel, Uncategorized — marimcfly @ 3:30 pm

…and another one opens.

The cute little girl in the picture above represents (but is not) me, as I get ready to start classes (tomorrow) for my Clinical Doctorate program.

What I did this past semester:

  • 25 to 30 hours per week at my internship at PCDA
  • 20 to 25 hours per week pushing Containers
  • 5 classes, including a federally funded grant course and an independent study reviewing research for AOTA
  • Made it back to Ghana

What I’ll do this coming year:

  • Take OT 610 this summer
  • Move to South Pasadena
  • Work/residency at PCDA
  • OTD program/project in Ghana
  • Take over the wooooooooooorrrrrlllllld.

Okay, perhaps that last bullet point was a little too ambitious.  I’ll save that one for 2011.  It’s still good to have dreams though, right?

To infinity (and hopefully back to Ghana)… and beyond!

March 21, 2010

Ghana: the perfect ‘reset’ button.

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Life, Obsessions, Reunion, Travel — Tags: , , , , — marimcfly @ 11:13 pm

I just got back on Friday, so forgive me if my thoughts aren’t as coherent as they should be.  I survived the trip (36 hours from LA to Chicago to Frankfurt to Accra to Apam, 30 hours coming home without stopping in Chicago).  I’m still processing everything that has happened over the past 2.5 weeks, while also trying to re-adjust to being home, surrounded by comforts, family, luxuries, and excess.  Let’s just say my head, heart, and body have been working overtime lately.

As soon as I got off the bus, I heard 4 of the older girls screaming from the dormitory window: “Marikoooooo!”  I almost started to cry… and the moments grew increasingly beautiful.

The thing about these children is this: Almost all of them have endured what we would call neglect, exclusion, abuse, and abandonment… and yet, they have a place at Mephibosheth.  They each have a role to play, chores to do, things to learn, food to eat, and a bed to sleep in. They enjoy spending time together, help each other out, and never feel sorry for themselves.  They play football together—walking unsteadily, crawling, or scooting on the ground to get to the ball – laughing and yelling the whole time.  The older children help those who can’t feed themselves—even before they eat their own meal.  The children who can barely walk still push the children who use wheelchairs, so that everyone can get to the school building on time.  If one child is given a banana, he breaks it into 32 pieces so that everyone can have some.  They help each other to pull their shirts over their heads, to wash their backs, and to tie their shoes.  They clap when someone else has done something well.  They praise God unconditionally, grateful for everything they have and trusting that He will continue to give them more than enough.  These children experience their lives with more pure joy, more powerful love, and stronger faith than anyone else I know.

Theo vs. Paul.

Gifty, helping Ebe open and drink from a water bottle.

Junior, wiping food off of Joel's face.

For me, this trip was even more rewarding than last year’s.  Last year was incredible, but I felt like I went all the way to Africa and helped some children for two weeks… and that was it.  I was frustrated and not convinced that anything I did made any sort of long-lasting impact.

This year, I was lucky to come back as a CI (clinical instructor) for the next group of USC students.  Each student pair (I supervised 3 pairs) was assigned to 2 children and did observational assessments, developed and implemented treatment plans, facilitated group activities, observed them in school, took them to the beach, and worked with the children to establish short-term and long-term goals.  It was challenging to figure out how to give feedback while still encouraging the students to trust what they know and problem-solve on their own.  It was amazing to watch the lightbulbs go on as the days went by.

Prince Kwesi, blowing bubbles.

Kwame, getting his arousal level up.

My students. 🙂

The CI (clinical instructor) team.

I think the most exciting part of the trip was the opportunity to collaborate with students at the University of Education, Winneba.  This is the only university with a Community-Based Rehabilitation program, which focuses on social inclusion for people with disabilities in Ghana.  These students will be going into their villages to provide education, awareness, and resources to support the empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities.  The Winneba students visited Mephibosheth and teamed up with the USC students to work with the children, get to know each other, and discuss occupational therapy and culturally relevant interventions.


One of the students from the University was named Ike.   Ike got the measles when he was younger, which left his lower body extremely weak.. but (after convincing his mom to give permission) he walked over a mile to school every day – on his hands. Now, he’s a teacher, a student at the University’s Community-Based Rehabilitation program, and Paul’s newest role model.

Ike told Paul, "Don't ever give up. Try really hard in school. You can be the banker you want to be."

Later that week, we helped Paul open up a bank account. 🙂

After the USC students left, 5 of us (CIs) stayed to lecture at the University.  Carlin and I spoke about occupational therapy, the importance of meaningful occupations, common diagnoses seen in Ghana, priorities for treatment, and strategies for teaching a skill.  We facilitated discussions on task analysis (e.g. What component skills do you use to kick a soccer ball?), adaptive self-care techniques (e.g. How do you put on a shirt after you’ve had a stroke and you can’t move one of your arms?), cultural differences between American/Ghanaian approaches to disability, goals of independence vs. interdependence, and the best way for the students to support people with disabilities in their own communities.  Arlene even brought Gifty Effie and Paul to her lecture to discuss the experience of using a wheelchair (and to give Gifty and Paul the opportunity to be on a University campus).  The Winneba students were so thoughtful, passionate, and eager to learn; this gave me so much hope for the future of Ghana.  I strongly believe that the Winneba students I met will play a large role in the implementation of Ghana’s Disability Rights Bill (just passed in 2006).  I’m so grateful that I got to play even a small part in this movement.

2 Winneba students, learning how to use a "backward chaining" strategy to teach shoe tying.

Winneba's Community-Based Rehabilitation program (plus us!)

The teaching team!

To say the least, going back to Ghana changed my life (again).  It reminded me that most of what I have is unnecessary, that expressions of love come in all forms, and that anything is possible.  It gave me the chance to refocus and to clarify my priorities.  And it absolutely, absolutely confirmed that I’m in the right profession and I’m doing what I love to do.  The children at Mephibosheth are the most inspirational people I know.

This is what love looks like:

Augustina and Theo, before church.

Veronica and her 2 boyfriends, Tandoh and Kwame Otoo.

Ebe, Kobe, Joel, Junior, and Franklina.. getting ready to make room for some more friends.

Isaac and Prince, acting like 2 grumpy old men on a front porch.

Kwame and Watala, shooting the breeze.

Kwame and Veronica, lovebirds.

Irene and Pamala.

My boys. Albert, Joe, Bentum.


Oh.. and the kids had never heard Michael Jackson before.  Carlin and I decided to introduce them.  Party time!

The only thing left to say is Thank You.  Medasse.

March 1, 2010

Back in Chappelle mode..

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Life, Reunion — Tags: , — marimcfly @ 9:00 pm

You guessed it.. back to Africa.  March 2-19.  🙂


February 3, 2010

So Far, So Good.

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Music — Tags: , — marimcfly @ 10:43 pm

A 5-year-old named Savannah stayed poised during a 911 call that her father couldn’t make because he could barely breathe.  Incredible.. and SOOOO cute.

October 11, 2009

Forget the Ducks..

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Life, Obsessions, Throwback — Tags: , , , — marimcfly @ 12:09 am

I have a new superhero name.

This week, at my PCDA internship, I got to play with a little girl named Megan.

Megan: What’s your name?
Me: Mariko.
Megan: Mighty Color?  That’s a great name!!!!!!!
Me: …Thank you!

I picture my alter ego like Sailor Jupiter.  She was always my favorite.



Sidenote.. Tuxedo Mask could get it.  Still.

August 19, 2009

Step by step..

Filed under: Ability Spectrum — Tags: , , , — marimcfly @ 11:43 pm

I’m a few days late with this story, but man.. This story really made me happy/hopeful.. and I had to share it with everyone!

Motola, an elephant who lost a foot and part of her leg when she stepped on a land mine 10 years ago, happily if tentatively stepped out Sunday after being fitted with an artificial limb.

In her first stroll with the permanent prosthesis, the 48-year-old female walked out of her enclosure for about 10 minutes, grabbed some dust with her trunk and jubilantly sprayed it in the air.

Full story [HERE]

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