Meet Tacoma’s new Peace Prize Laureate

// Retired pediatrician awarded for his work with children in China

After retiring as a pediatrician orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Donald Mott decided to use his skills to fulfill a higher calling and give back to children in need.

In 2002, Mott founded China Partners Network with a group of physicians, therapists and other volunteer professionals. The team donates its talents, skills and time to train health professionals in China to meet the medical needs of underserved children with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders. 

For his commitment to service, the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Committee announced on June 28 its selection of Mott as 2011 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate. The prize honors and encourages peace building by members of our community, and promotes peace and understanding in our community, region, nation and world.

It’s a big honor,” Mott said.

Mott was nominated for the award by Pacific Lutheran University President Dr. Loren Anderson and Neil Sobania, director of the Wang Center for International Studies at the university. 

Mott credits the success of the nonprofit to his team.

“I get the recognition and they do all the work,” he said, referring to the organization’s health professionals.

Since its founding, Mott and the network traveled to China many times to conduct workshops and courses for orphanage workers, therapy students, medical students and physicians in rehabilitation medicine and doctors of traditional Chinese medicine.

Although China has become a leader in global health care in its larger cities, Mott said the more rural Chinese communities lack access to education and medical care.

“For the most part, they don’t really have certification programs for physical therapy like we do in the United States,” he said. “People in larger cities have access to very sophisticated medical treatment, but the interior doesn’t have very good programs or management for these patients. We wanted to start fulfilling a need.”

Before retiring, Mott said many of his American patients with neuromuscular diseases went on to get an education, begin careers and lead productive lives. In rural China, often the story is starkly different.

In visits to the country, Mott saw mostly grandparents taking care of children with cerebral palsy.

“Some of these children were just kept in bed and looking up at the ceiling,” Mott said. “I hope we can get these kids up and about.”

Over the next five years the network will teach a core group of healthcare professionals in rural China techniques for occupational therapy and rehabilitation. Mott and his partners hope this group will continue teaching fellow professionals in underserved communities throughout the country.

As the team continues its work, Mott also hopes to attract more attention to the cause and cultivate Chinese philanthropy.

I feel the call to give back. In China, they don’t understand that sometimes,” Mott said. “We have to first get them to the table to see what’s happening. It seems that if you see the need and the opportunity, why not take advantage of it?”

This is the seventh year the committee has awarded the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize. Each year, the recipient is given a unique glass artwork designed by Tacoma’s Hilltop Artists, in addition to a trip to attend the Nobel Peace Prize activities in December in Oslo, Norway.  The committee relies on contributions and donations-in-kind from local businesses and individuals. 

The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Committee presented the prize at the Scandinavian Cultural Center at Pacific Lutheran University.

For more information or to donate to the China Network Partners, e-mail Mott at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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