The GPEC Approach to Workshops

A key goal of the IAACD is to develop and offer training opportunities accessible to anyone involved in the care of disabled children. The core principles of any such training should be based on the philosophy which we all share, namely:

  • based on ICF principles
  • evidence-informed
  • needs-led by families
  • locally owned with full stakeholder engagement
  • promoting trans-disciplinary models of care
  • non-hierarchical teamwork
  • using a ‘train the trainers’ model for long-term sustainability

An important component of such training activities with our member academy partners is the creation and delivery of workshops on topics of relevance to the field of childhood disability. Two aspects of this activity are of primary importance to the success of this effort. These components concern the content of the workshops and the processes of creation and delivery of the material. Each is described briefly here, with examples of recent programs (see below).

  • Content of the Workshops

    There is general agreement that approaches to teaching about childhood disability (‘applied child development’) need to be built on a foundation of current concepts about health, development, family and ‘disability’. Themes that are being promoted include:

    • the WHO’s ICF framework for health, and the operationalization of these ideas with the ‘F-words’ in Childhood Disability;
    • a focus on family and an understanding and application of principles of ‘family-centred service’;
    • a focus on child and family development, expanding beyond the traditional emphasis on treatments and therapies directed at ‘body structure and function’ and promoting functioning and as much independence as possible;
    • a life-course perspective, recognizing that childhood disabilities start in early childhood and are life-long conditions; and
    • promotion of a critical appraisal approach to the evaluation of ‘evidence’, in terms of both methodology of research information and its relevance to specific situations and contexts.

  • Processes of Workshop Development and Delivery

    Note, first, that GPEC workshops are always presented at the invitation of a host academy. An essential aspect of the GPEC program is that it is to be developed and delivered in partnership with the host, and is only available when a host group wishes to have such a program and participates actively in its creation. We have often arranged training needs surveys of the local academy as a starting point of discussions on the program content.

    Second, we encourage the host academy to make these workshops ‘invitation-only’ events, recruiting and inviting leaders in childhood disability from the region where the event will happen. The goal is to try to achieve a multiplier effect by engaging with people who are in positions of leadership to become ‘Knowledge Brokers’ in their community and to share and promote ideas that they have heard at the GPEC workshops.

    Third, the participants must be multi-disciplinary and cover the breadth of childhood disability practice. We actively encourage participation from local stakeholders including parents, parent groups, education colleagues, charities and non-governmental organisations. This helps make the discussions richer, develop a common understanding of issues, and plan future local initiatives.

    Fourth, the program is meant to be comprised of workshops, and not a series of lectures delivered by experts from ‘somewhere else’! This means that GPEC presenters expect active engagement from participants, and encourage discussion and application of concepts to the realities (be they clinical, political, attitudinal, resource-based…) of the community/country in which the workshops are happening. This is done in an effort to avoid people either trying to apply approaches from elsewhere without considering local factors, or feeling distressed because these ideas – which they may like and value – cannot be done ‘here’. We like having the workshops jointly planned and delivered by GPEC presenters and local presenters. This approach not only helps to frame the discussion in the local context but also encourages development of future local trainers.

    Lastly, the programs are considered a starting point to address the training needs of the local academy. Our pre- and post-training surveys focus on changes in practice and future training needs. They also help the GPEC trainers to learn and improve. We aim to remain involved and collaborate with local colleagues in planning and delivery of further training over the next few years.

    Where the audience is global, we have also developed a different training model titled ‘Foundational concepts in 21st century childhood disability practice’. This aims to cover areas of our key philosophy described above and can be accessed irrespective of the participant’s local context. The Paris program discussed below is an example of this.

  • Examples of workshops

    Below are the programs of two recent workshops, delivered in Tbilisi, Georgia (May 2018) at the EACD annual meeting in collaboration with the Georgian Academy of Childhood Disability (see here); and in Paris, France (May 2019) at the EACD Annual Meeting in collaboration with the EACD. (see here)

    We are currently finalising the program for two further workshops in Bengaluru, India and Nairobi, Kenya in close collaboration with the Indian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and the East African Academy of Childhood Disability to be held in January 2020. A further workshop with the Mexican Academy is also being planned later in 2020. A detailed analysis of our ‘pilot training program’ in Tbilisi, Georgia can be found here.  The feedback from this pilot has helped us focus on content and process for program development and delivery.

  • The model of training and planning of the workshops evolved from a large international survey the GPEC group conducted in 2016 exploring training needs and existent global training collaborations. You can access the survey results here.
  • At the GPEC we are always keen and available for any discussion regarding teaching and training. It does not need to be a workshop or training program request but a simple chat to share ideas of how your local academy can develop local training for your network. Do get in touch for a chat. We can be contacted on