To educate, empower and connect those living without both arms or more.
To use the non-profit, Enhancing Skills for Life, to financially support individuals missing at least both arms to attend the Skills for Life: Bilateral Upper Limb Loss Workshop with minimal to no cost to them. Caregivers/family members typically need to accompany those missing both arms so we hope to offset as much of the financial burden as possible. We also endeavor to provide other opportunities to socialize, share tips and tricks, and build lasting and supportive friendships within the limb loss community other than the Skills for Life Workshop. Creating these opportunities is vital as missing both arms poses unique challenges in day to day living.
To provide a safe environment for individuals missing both arms or upper and lower limbs to connect in person;
To provide facilities, equipment and other resources for participants to engage in the promotion and participation of events and activities regarding upper limb loss rehabilitation;
To provide opportunities for participants to engage in recreational and social events with similar individuals;
To sponsor, host and/or participate in events and activities that promote the rehabilitation of persons affected by bilateral upper limb loss.
The Skills for Life: Bilateral Upper Limb Loss Workshop was started by Robert H. “Skip” Meier, III, MD and Diane Atkins, OTR who had worked closely together for over 11 years at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR). During this time they successfully treated many bilateral upper limb loss individuals and recognized the unique set of circumstances that faced their patients. They started the Skills for Life: Bilateral Upper Limb Loss Workshop in 2002 on the principle that these circumstances were best shared face to face as they are more meaningful, effective and valuable than phone or other means of communication.
This workshop turned out to be a life changing experience for everyone who attended, including the founder of Enhancing Skills for Life, Shawn Swanson Johnson. As a relatively new Occupational Therapist, she witnessed first hand how impactful and meaningful it was for the attendees to meet others who were also navigating life without both arms and was determined to ensure the workshops continued.
After talking about starting a nonprofit for this community of individuals for over 10 years, Shawn, founded Enhancing Skills for Life in 2017. The aim was to provide events, programs, resources, and peer support for people living without both arms or more.
Now, 20+ years later the workshop is an international event attracting attendees from countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and all over Europe. At the last workshop over 70 people living with bilateral upper limb difference came together to empower and educate one another. Those in attendance heard from world leading healthcare experts as well as those missing both arms or all four limbs. The topics were wide ranging and included essential self-care tasks, intimacy and relationships, advocacy, returning to work, independent air travel and high level adaptive sports.
In the years between the workshops, we aim to provide additional opportunities for those missing both arms or more to get together in a range of settings including other limb loss meetings, social travel such as group cruises as well as adapted sports programs.
Annually, this non-profit aims to help anywhere from 10-100 individuals missing both arms offset travel and lodging expenses for these types of events and in in person experiences.