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07 Jul 2022

Big Kildare Interview: occupational therapist discusses the joys of helping kids

Ciarán Mather reports on one woman’s love for helping kids gain new skills and confidence

Big Kildare Interview: occupational therapist discusses the joys of helping kids

Dana Katz Murphy, an occupational therapist originally from South Africa, pictured with Conn Brennan from Newbridge at Sensational Kids

Being an occupational therapist means having the best job in the world — that’s according to Dana Katz Murphy.

Dana, who emigrated from her native South Africa to Ireland, currently works with the not-for-profit group Sensational Kids in Kildare town as the group’s national clinical services manager.

Dana revealed that she has been working in the field for 22 years.

She first spent time in Ireland as a 19-year-old, and loved her time here so much that she said to herself that she must return — a personal promise that she managed to fulfil.

HOLISTIC APPROACH
Summarising what Sensational Kids do, Dana explained: "We provide therapeutic toys and tools in order to maximise a child’s development and help them in day-to-day activities.

"We will work with any child, regardless of their ability… we look holistically at how we approach children in our care."

One of the children Dana helps is Conn Brennan, a three-year-old from Newbridge with Down Syndrome, who she is currently helping with his balance, mobility skills and hand eye co-ordination.

Some of the activities Dana is helping him with include doing up buttons on his clothes and going up and down stairs.

Dana said: "Conn is getting on so well. He really enjoys our sessions, which are held once or twice a week, and he comes in full of confidence.

"In fact, he recently did a hand-eye co-ordination activity that he did amazingly in."

Dana added: "Although he has only been with us for a few months, Conn still manages to make great progress every week."

She also revealed that Sensational Kids is thinking of piloting a ‘partner programme’ with local schools to help children who need occupational therapy support.

When asked why she loves her job, Dana said: "occupational therapy is science-based; there is a lot of research behind it, but it also allows for creativity."

She said it’s great to make children feel happier and confident in themselves: "When you see that your work, which is very hands-on, has such a positive effect on these kids, and that you are positively changing their lives, it feels great."

She added: "I really am so lucky to be in this profession."

Since 2007, Sensational Kids, which relies on grants and subsidies instead of government funding, has helped over 2,000 families access therapy supports and has saved families over €2 million in therapy fees.

Sensational Kids, which originated in Kildare town, now has four Child Development Centres, located in Kildare, West Cork, Clones and Claremorris.

It also planning another new state-of-the-art facility to help thousands more children access therapy supports each year.

For more information or to donate to Sensational Kids’ National Child Development Centre, please visit the group’s website at www.sensationalkids.ie.

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