EMPOWER . EDUCATE . CONNECT

To empower and educate persons missing both arms to pursue fulfilled and independent lives.

 

Enhancing Skills for Life

TESTIMONIALS

Eric Nelson“I have been to every SFL seminar and have received funds to be able to attend each of them. Not sure if I would’ve been able to go without the financial assistance. Certainly having the assistance, made the decision a lot easier. I am deeply thankful for all the people and businesses that contribute to this fund.

As a 34 year bilateral A/E ‘veteran’, I still learn new things and see new adaptive products at each seminar.

Most of all, I like to attend because of the people. It is always my goal to try and meet every amputee and hear their story. As an amputee, where else can you go to find like minded people! When someone there states they understand what you’re going thru or they can relate to your issue, they really can!

It is such an encouraging place to share hopes and dreams and failures and fears. It is a place where you can share your experiences and find answers to situations that you need help with. You learn about the newest products, surgeries and OT and PT therapies. Not only is it a place to learn, but it is a place to give back and share with others.

Every time I leave a seminar, I can’t wait for the next one.”

– Eric Nelson

Anna Marecka“I attended my first Skills for Life in 2015. It was the first time in my entire life when I didn’t feel alone. I wasn’t the only one without arms in a room that everyone was staring at.

I feel that connecting, sharing experiences, and supporting each other is very crucial. This is why I wish the Skills for Life conferences took place more often, which would allow us to develop closer friendships.

I was extremely excited when I first learned about SFL from my OT at Shriners. However, after realizing the expenses associated with the trip I felt disappointed that I won’t be able to attend. Being a single and unemployed mom who undergoes multiple surgeries and deals with chronic pain, it would not have been possible for me to go to SFL without financial assistance. I would have missed out on an amazing experience and I hope to be fortunate enough to attend again.

It is thanks to Skills for Life, that I have my service dog Expo, who makes my life so much easier and brings me so much joy, and for that I am truly grateful.”

– Anna Marecka

Sam Matagi“I was fortunate enough to receive funds to attend Skills for Life workshops in 2011 and 2015. Because of my attendance, I met with people who taught me techniques that gave me the confidence to recover faster from a life changing injury than I ever could on my own! Since SFL, I’m not just surviving my accident, I’m thriving!”

– Samoana Matagi

Mike St Onge“My first event was Skills for Life 2 in 2008. I was so impressed and grateful for that experience that I hope I never miss another one. I’m a quad amputee since 2000 and I have learned – and shared SO MUCH that I am drawn back again and again. I never fail to come away from this symposium with something that I can add to my daily routine. I am constantly challenged, lifted, and vindicated as to why I come back every time. The peer to peer exchange, alone, gives me so much insight into my situation that I can’t help but continually grow in my own independence. My one wish would be that we could get together every year instead of every three years. I would highly recommend this conference to those affected, those supporting, or those healthcare providers in the field because YOU WILL LEARN so much that you can take home and share! But most of all, this experience would not be possible if not for the generous donors. I am beyond grateful for the financial assistance so that I may attend.”

– Mike St Onge

Purpose

Enhancing Skills for Life Non-Profit will allow individuals missing both arms to attend the Skills for Life: Bilateral Upper Limb Loss Workshop, a triennial event, with minimal to no cost to them and/or their caregiver/family member. During the off years from the workshop the hope is to allow those missing both arms to get together for in person gatherings such as other limb loss meetings, social travel such as group cruises as well as adapted sports programs. In 2015, we were able to distribute approximately $15,000 in financial assistance to 20 individuals missing both arms attend the Skills for Life workshop. Annually, this non-profit could help anywhere from 10-50 individuals missing both arms offset travel/lodging expenses for these in person events.

Skills for Life empowers, educates and connects!

History

Robert H. “Skip” Meier, III, MD and Diane Atkins, OTR worked closely together in Houston, Texas at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) for over 11 years, and have continued to work together directly and indirectly for over 40 years. They successfully treated many bilateral upper limb loss individuals and realized what a unique set of circumstances individuals missing both arms faced. They had a vision for a workshop where these individuals could connect and learn from one another in person. They realized the in person exchanges were much more meaningful, effective and valuable than phone or other means of communication. Skills for Life: Bilateral Upper Limb Loss workshop was born in 2002. The first meeting took place in Denver, Colorado and brought together approximately 15 individuals missing both arms. It was a life changing experience for most in attendance including the healthcare providers who work with them. The workshop has continued over the years… it is now an international event and has grown to over 50 individuals missing both arms. Those in attendance learn about topics ranging from essential self-care tasks, returning to work, to independent international travel and high level adaptive sports.

From the Founders

“Very few people lose an arm and an even fewer number lose both arms. Through some medical legal work Diane and I were involved in, we noticed a lack of integrated rehabilitation professionals who knew how to work with bilateral upper limb loss.This meeting was started for networking and peer mentoring purposes as well as to introduce bilateral upper limb loss individuals to the state of the art in prosthetics. The problem for many individuals missing both arms is twofold: insufficient health care coverage and many unable to return to work which inherently leads to limited finances. The original intent/vision was to have as many limb loss individuals as possible attend the workshop at either little or no cost to them. The creation of this non-profit will allow this vision to continue positively affecting individuals missing both arms.”

– Robert “Skip” Meier, III, MD


“When Skip and I first envisioned this idea, we had no idea it would grow to the size and scope of today’s SFL 5. The number of participants who attend, and the recognition this conference has achieved, is tremendous. It is hard to describe the excitement and enthusiasm these meetings generate. Being able to contribute, in some small part, to the lasting relationships of those who attend, and the knowledge and experience that is shared, is one of the most profound, personal and professional joys of my career.”

– Diane Atkins, OTR

Meet our Board

The Enhancing Skills for Life Board of Directors

Skills for Life 5
Bilateral Upper Limb Loss Workshop

The Skills for Life 5 Bilateral Upper Limb Loss Workshop will be held on October 18-21, 2018 in Houston, Texas.

The Skills for Life workshop is a unique event dedicated to bilateral upper limb loss. It will include a program devoted specifically to issues faced by individuals with bilateral upper limb loss. Presenters will include individuals living with bilateral upper limb loss, therapists, prosthetists, physicians and others. It is such an encouraging place to share hopes and dreams and failures and fears.

For more information, download the Skills for Life 5 flyer here or visit the Skills for Life website for details.