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Letter to the Editor
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I enjoyed reading the excellent talk about global health engagement by Ronnie Leavitt PT, PhD, MPH, which she presented at CSM and was shared in the May 2017 issue of The Resource. There are too many excellent and timely points in her talk to repeat them here, but I feel it is a speech that many other healthcare professionals should read, not just physical therapy professionals. She is so right that action towards social justice is a moral imperative of the Global Health Section. I am grateful for her long, continuous service to the Section.

I would like to clarify a statement in the Editor’s introduction to Dr. Leavitt's printed speech in The Catalyst, in which she is identified as the "founder of the SIG" (Special Interest Group). As an active member since the first meeting, Ronnie has clearly been a leader in the group. Additionally, I would like to provide context for the origins of GHS with my personal leadership. I organized an "interest" meeting at the national APTA conference in New Orleans on June 18, 1985, for all therapists interested in any aspect of international rehab, including those who had already practiced, or intended to, in a different country or minority culture in this country. Flyers were posted around the Conference venue about the organizing meeting, which was not part of the formal Conference program. That evening I met Ronnie along with an initial group of approximately 30 therapists, all of whom were very enthusiastic about the pending group. Ronnie and I agreed to work together to develop the interest group, which we initially named the Cross-Cultural and International Interest Group or CCIIG.

From that point on, I wrote and mailed out a quarterly CCIIG newsletter for many years. Voluntary dues of $10 each sustained the CCIIG’s copying and mailing expenses. In 1995 we applied for formal Section status within HPA and were accepted as the now “CCISIG” with many endorsements from APTA leaders at the time. Ronnie and I co-chaired the group from 1985 until 2001, at which time I adopted an Indian (South Asian) toddler and stepped back from active coordination of the group. I continued as an active APTA and HPA member and have followed the group's tremendous growth since that time. I was happy that Ronnie, as well as numerous other active members from around the country, carried it on and have made it the thriving, successful SIG that it is now.
My own international work in the 1970’s to 90’s remain important experiences in both my personal and professional growth. When I note the number of “cross-cultural” clinical internships now available to PT students, it is clear that appreciation for this part of professional training has grown immensely since 1985, due in part, I believe, to the impact of CCIIG, and now GHS, on APTA and its members.

I would love to see/meet any GHS members who may be traveling through Denver in the future. Keep up the great and very valuable work you are doing! And many thanks again to Dr. Ronnie Leavitt for being such an inspiring leader in this field that means so much to so many.


Karin Schumacher PT, MPH
Denver, Colorado

Editor’s Note: Karin Schumacher’s letter to the Resource was edited due to space considerations. The Editor has asked her to consider a submission of an article describing the early origins and history of GHS.

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