Claudia Vila Boa – Forest Town School

  1. What is your current role within the education space?

Currently, I am a Paediatric Physiotherapist based at Forest Town School, a special needs school.

  1. What inspired you to follow this career path?

I have always had a passion for helping people achieve what they dearly desire but always felt they couldn’t. After many sports injuries and undergoing physiotherapy myself, I saw the impact this profession had on my ability and life. Now I am living my dream and helping children improve their abilities one goal at a time.

  1. What do you love most about what you do?

I love that I can empower the children I treat, improving their quality of life. I love the face of disbelief or overwhelming excitement when they achieve a long-time goal, like walking with crutches, doing a handstand or a cartwheel. Seeing their satisfaction and joy is immensely fulfilling.

  1. What attributes, do you feel, are important for success in your role?

I feel a good physiotherapist needs to have patience, understanding and kindness. They need to love to help people reach their goals. Ultimately you become a problem solver and often a hero in their eyes. You would also need to have a passion to learn about our amazing human body and how it works, its abilities and limits.

  1. What obstacles in life have you had to overcome, and what did you learn?

When I was completing my last year in my physiotherapy degree, I had a serious back injury, a herniated disc, due to a coach over stretching my back. For over 6 months I had severe pain walking and could only manage a few meters with tiny steps. I struggled to sit as well as get in and out of a car. Additionally, I needed someone to put my shoes on and take them off, as I could not reach my feet due to the pain. After a year of intense therapy, my pain completely subsided, and I began to gain full range in my movements. I was fortunate to have a great physiotherapist treating me and fully recuperated. Today I have no pain and continue to be involved in many sports. I learnt a great deal from this experience. Firstly, I learnt how important it is to know, see and feel the limits of the human body so that I don’t injure any of my patients. Secondly, I learnt that, in many ways, an obstacle can be a blessing. Due to this experience, I am a better therapist with genuine empathy and understanding. Furthermore, I also feel it has made me more driven to help people reach their goals. Thirdly, I learnt not to set to bigger goals at first as they will be overwhelming and demotivating. Instead, I now set smaller, more reachable goals that guide me to the ultimate goal. I make sure to acknowledge all progress no matter how minor. Fourthly, I learnt how important it is to listen and follow your therapist’s advice. Lastly, I learnt life is about experiences, learning from those experiences and to keep moving forward.

  1. What advice do you have for young girls?

Don’t be afraid of obstacles, or failing, they are all lessons that will come back to help you later. Everyone fails, successful people just keep getting up and trying over and over until they get it right. I am more afraid of giving up a step to early. How do you know when the finish line was just around the corner? I believe the secret to success is to keep taking one small step at a time, keep getting up after you fail or fall, and you are bound to reach your goal. Don’t worry about the time it takes. Time doesn’t matter, doing one more step does! Slow and steady and you will get where you want to be!