Tag Archives: Barbara Greenspan

Unsung Hero #97

Alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Robin Hellmann nominates her “fairy godboss” for this week’s Unsung Hero award:

If you live in or around Westport, and you work with young children or have a child with special needs, Barbara Greenspan puts a smile on your face. You feel gratitude for what she has taught you, how she cared for your family, how she loved your child and made you a better parent, caregiver or teacher.

For the past 7 years I have had the honor of working with Barbara at her Kidswork occupational therapy practice here. Everyone who knows her attests to her professional skills, and her overall “amazingness” as a human being.

Whenever people learn I am a pediatric occupational therapist, they ask if I know Barbara Greenspan. I am proud to say I do.

I am also humbled that when Barbara retires in June, she is turning her practice over to me. It will be called Spark Pediatric OT.

Barbara Greenspan

With the planning and coordinating nearly complete, I have had time to reflect on our journey together, and the lessons I have learned working with such a special woman.

One of the best lessons Barbara taught me is the importance of being a mentor and leader.

Barbara turned every question I asked, whether existential or mundane, into an opportunity for me to feel respected as a thinker. She left me with the confidence to keep asking questions and be heard.

Rather than answering my questions with her opinions, she urged me to listen to my gut and let that feeling guide me.

Barbara did not micromanage me. She led by having the confidence to allow me to manage myself.

She trusted my judgment to grow at my own pace with a subtle, encouraging push here and there. She never felt her toes were being stepped on, as I took on more responsibility or shared knowledge with her.

In passing her torch, she leads by example. She leads by choosing, at this stage in her life, to “play a little more and work a little less.”

Barbara, thank you for the gift of working by your side for all these years. I will follow my gut, lead by example, continue to ask questions, and care for our community the best that I can.

Not Always As Easy As Riding A Bike

Every child’s life is marked by developmental milestones: Potty training. Shoe tying. Bike riding.

But — as basic as those sound — not every kid achieves every milestone with ease.

Barbara Greenspan

Barbara Greenspan

Westporter Barbara Greenspan is a pediatric occupational therapist. Working primarily with preschoolers to develop gross and fine motor skills — jumping, skipping, handwriting — she knows the physical and emotional benefits of being able to do everyday tasks.

Barbara is also a devoted bike rider. She works out at Sherpa, does the CT Challenge and enters triathlons. “Kids need to ride bikes,” she believes. But they don’t always have the ability to.

In 2007 she asked Westport Parks and Rec to help organize a bike-riding class for children with disabilities. “Inclusion” is part of their mission. Cyndi Palaia worked with Barbara to develop a “Cycle Club.”

They’ve run it every spring since. For 6 weeks at the Compo Skate Park, a half dozen or so youngsters learn about balance, starting and stopping, and safety.

Easy does it...

Easy does it…

Every Monday — with help from Staples’ Service League of Boys (SLOBs), and other high school students — the kids hesitantly, then confidently, move from training wheels to independence.

Some are autistic. Others have Down Syndrome, or ADHD. All achieve an important milestone.

Barbara calls the teenage helpers crucial to the program’s success. “They literally hold the bikes, say when to pedal, and slowly let go.”

She notes that the teenagers “have to think about how to teach. They have to be empathetic. They’re in close proximity to the kids, physically and emotionally. I think they get as much satisfaction out of helping, as the kids do themselves. It’s a process, and they’re there for the kids every step of the way.”

Some of the teens return every year to help.

The Cycle Club is one of Westport’s lowest-key, littlest-known programs. But it has a major impact.

The other day, Barbara saw one of the program’s graduates on a bike near Roseville Road. “I rode to the beach with my dad, and back,” he proudly told her. “I rode 6 miles!”