The Hub of Paediatric Acupuncture (HOPA) is an organisation based in Oxford, UK. It was founded to:
+ provide parents with accurate and reliable information about paediatric acupuncture
+ create a searchable, worldwide directory of paediatric acupuncturists
+ support and educate paediatric acupuncturists all over the world
+ promote research in the field of paediatric acupuncture
A message from the founder of the Hub of Paediatric Acupuncture (HOPA) - Rebecca Avern
‘I’m not sure that anybody grows up thinking ‘I’m going to be a paediatric acupuncturist when I am older’. Having had a rather sheltered and conservative childhood, I had never come across acupuncture and my family culture was to turn to conventional, allopathic medicine when any of us were ill. In my case, that happened rather often. I suffered from quite severe eczema, asthma and allergies. By the time I reached my twenties, the effect of the conditions as well as the steroid medication I had used to treat them, meant my general health and vitality were poor.
At the age of about 23, having completed a degree in Eastern Philosophy and Literature, I had a chance meeting with an acupuncturist at a party, who suggested I try acupuncture. I knew after my first treatment that it had touched something in me and reminded me of how I could feel. I went in for my second session and told my practitioner I wanted to study acupuncture. Within a couple of months, I was enrolled on a three year course at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine (UK) and I have never looked back.
As most acupuncturists do, I started out just treating adults. Paediatrics had not been a part of my initial training. Over the years, I had more and more parents ask me if I could treat their children. I then had my own children. Becoming part of a community of families made me realise how many children needed help. I knew that acupuncture could be exactly the kind of help they needed because it was well-suited to treating the many and varied childhood conditions that were so prevalent.
I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to train for a year with Julian Scott, who pioneered the use of acupuncture for children in the West. I sought out other paediatric acupuncture experts to expand my range of treatment modalities. Within a few years, I found my practice was so full of children that I handed over my adult patients to other practitioners and decided to focus solely on working with children. I founded ‘The Panda Clinic’ in Oxford, UK, an acupuncture centre solely for the treatment of babies, children and teenagers.
As my clinical experience of working with children expanded, I decided to write a textbook for other acupuncturists who already treat or would like to start treating children. I recognised that the conditions they came for were very different from those experienced by children in China. Acupuncture for Babies, Children and Teenagers: treating both the child and the illness is now one of the most widely used paediatric acupuncture textbooks in the world. I followed this up a few years later with a book for both practitioners and parents, focusing on the Chinese medicine’s approach to childhood mental health. Chinese Medicine for Childhood Anxiety and Depression: a Handbook for Practitioners and Parents aims to support parents to raise children who are mentally-emotionally resilient and robust.
As well as my clinical work, I now teach paediatric acupuncture to practitioners all over the world. I am on a mission to support practitioners to competently and confidently treat children, and to raise the profile of paediatric acupuncture so that more parents and health professionals become aware of its benefits.
I love my work. I love being around children and witnessing their transformation. Illness in a child, whether physical or mental-emotional, can negatively impact every aspect of their and their families’ lives. Practising a medical modality that supports children holistically, and steers them towards better health, feels like a huge honour and a privilege.
I have become more and more aware over the years of the need for an organisation which will bring paediatric acupuncturists all over the world. I have heard from many practitioners who do not know where to look for quality resources and ongoing paediatric acupuncture training. I have recognised the need for a central directory of well-qualified paediatric practitioners for parents to search. The Hub of Paediatric Acupuncture (HOPA) arose out of a desire to meet these needs, ultimately meaning that more children will benefit from this wonderful medicine.’