April has long been National Occupational Therapy Month. This past April, however, was particularly rich in activities on the California Campus in celebration of occupational therapy. It all began with the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) and ended with American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Conference and Expo.
On April 1, SOTA greeted National Occupational Therapy Month with a celebration of the occupations of play and ADL (Activities of Daily Living). In honor of play, games were carefully selected by the class cohorts to demonstrate the biopsychosocial nature of the practice of occupational therapy. From fine motor games prepared by the Blue Class – see the picture of our President, Dr. Nitsch, overcoming some fine motor challenges – to the gross motor challenges organized by the Purple Class of lifting and carrying, occupational and physical therapy students, faculty and staff enjoyed the smiles, laughs and fun inherent in play.
No celebration, however, is ever complete without the ADL co-occupations of feeding and eating, and SOTA’s April 1st event presented food tables overflowing with pizza, salads, breads and desserts to complement the fun.
In late April, the USA MOT CA campus joined with occupational therapy leaders in the San Diego community, led by Sue Harris of Therapy Specialists, and former AOTA President, Dr. Mary Evert, at Mrs. Harris’ home to host a reception for AOTA leaders arriving to attend the annual AOTA conference. The conference was held in San Diego, CA from April 24-28, 2013. Van service to and from the Harris home was graciously provided by Kim Crown and Chris Callahan, OT students in the Blue Class, while Christi Cross and Kim Caddell, both from the Yellow Class as well as Robin Bewley (Red Class) provided greetings and wait-staff services at the reception. The reception was honored with the presence of Dr. Fred Sommers, Executive Director of AOTA and Dr. Charles Christiansen from AOTF, to name just a few. Former and present AOTA Presidents attended: Dr. Mary Evert, Dr. Carolyn Baum, Dr. Florence Clark and Dr. Ginny Stoffels. In addition, several international dignitaries, Dr. Sue Baptiste and Dr. Kit Sinclair, joined in the celebration. The San Diego occupational therapy community was represented by Sue Harris, Didi Olson and Lynn Johnson from Therapy Specialists; Joyce Fries from Scripps Mercy; and Christien Weaver from Scripps Memorial. The Local Committee for San Diego included: Jill Peck-Murray, Denise Hoover, Patti Webster, Nicolaas van den Heever, and USA’s very own: Erin Schwier and Terri Roberts. The California OT educational community was represented by Dr. Nicolaas van den Heever of West Coast University and Dr. Florence Clark from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
The culminating April event was, of course, the annual AOTA Conference and Expo that was held from April 25- 28, 2013 at the San Diego Conference Center. For every city in which an AOTA Conference is held, a People Power Committee is assembled one year in advance that works to provide local support for the profession’s conference activities. For the San Diego conference, Dr. Erin Schwier and Dr. Terri Roberts of the CA MOT Faculty were members of the AOTA People Power Committee.
Faculty members from both the Florida and California campuses were presenters at the AOTA Conference and Expo. During the conference, Dr. Karen Howell delivered a poster presentation. Prof Holly Reed had two platform presentations one of which included a panel discussion featuring USA students Kiel Cooluris and Nicole Rushford; and the other presentation included the following USA students: Heather Emerson, Natalee Laughter, Dana Clyman and Courtney Ahlberg.
On the evening of the Welcome Ceremonies for the beginning of the AOTA Conference, a group of at least thirty MOT students from the CA Campus were seated at the front of the auditorium during welcome ceremonies proudly wearing the black and turquoise long sleeve shirts with the USA logo on the front and OT Program across the shirt back. Additionally 30 + MOT students volunteered at the conference either as room monitors or registration support. And last, but certainly not least, on Friday night of the AOTA, April 26th, USA hosted its Alumni and Friends Reception.
April 2013 was certainly a month rich in activities in San Diego, CA in celebration of National OT Month. We now look forward to 2017, the bicentennial year for the occupational therapy profession.