Summer Interns come from Around the World: Meet Jenni Häkkinen and Gwendolyn Apgar!

IMG_8616Jenni is from Finland and will soon be graduating with International Master degree studies in Adapted Physical Activity from KU Leuven University. For the last two years she has been studying abroad in Belgium, Ireland and Spain. Before her Master studies, Jenni was working as an APA Sport Instructor in Finland, and volunteer coach and team leader for the Special Olympics Unified Basketball team.

Why did you choose to do your internship at CARA?

I came to do my internship at CARA because I got recommendations from people and I wanted to see how Adapted Physical Activities are coordinated in Ireland. I was especially interested in the development of the new Inclusive Adventure Training.

What have you liked about the internship so far?

Here in CARA I have engaged into few projects already, like the new Inclusive Adventure Training, that I am really enjoying. People have been very helpful in sharing their knowledge.

What are you most looking forward to with your internship at CARA?

I am really happy to participate and help with the Inclusive Adventure Training pilot project this summer. I am looking forward to gaining more knowledge about Inclusive Outdoor Activities and how to develop new nationwide programs. After internship days I truly enjoy the Irish nature and I hope to do many outdoor sports here during this summer, so this pilot aligns up nicely with my interests.


gwenMDAGwen is an undergraduate Kinesiology major at University of Virginia. Her knowledge in disability policy, advocacy and adapted physical activity has come from her studies but also practical experience as an Adapted PE teacher, Special Olympics volunteer, sports coach, and MDA camp counsellor. Additionally, she serves as the executive director’s intern at the Independent Resource Centre (IRC) in Charlottesville, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering a community environment in which people with disabilities can live as independently as they choose.

Why did you choose to do your internship at CARA?

Much of the reason I am at CARA this summer is credited to one of my professors, Dr. Martin Block. Dr. Block has served as a great mentor to me in my studies and connected me with CARA last autumn. After learning more about CARA, I knew that this was where I wanted to do my internship. CARA is on the cutting edge with many of their initiatives, and that’s something that really excites me!

What have you liked about the internship so far?

Really everything; every day I am excited to come to work and be surrounded by a group of people who are so passionate and knowledgeable. I have already engaged in a couple projects so far and I cannot wait to see them develop more. Overall, I love being able to get new perspectives and exchange ideas on disability sport, physical activity and inclusion.

What’s one thing that you now know that you didn’t before you started your internship?

Things take time! I think for awhile I’ve had a distorted view in the sense that I thought policy, initiatives, etc. could all happen so quickly. What I’ve come to learn is that things take patience, persistence, a lot of refinement, and even more collaboration, but when you’re surrounded by people who have similar interests and are working towards the same things as you, it’s worth it.