At USA, the success of the education students receive can often be measured in the impact they have in the community. Here, we share a few of the projects that jumped from the classroom to the community:
In Dr. Rachel Stankey’s Assistive Technology and Community Service course, she asks students to design and implement a community service project. In February, they chose to partner with the local nonprofit Fill-a-Belly to shop and prepare a meal for 60 people in need in the North County of San Diego. After the event, Dr. Stankey asked each student to write a reflection paper about the experience and how it related to occupational therapy.
Straight from the Heart
Students in the Pediatric Interventions and Psychosocial Interventions courses participated in Mock Clinics at Straight from the Heart, Inc. There, they hosted parenting and developmental play groups for families and children to educate parents about a range of topics, including feeding, bedtime routines, and small motor skills. Students plan to continue their involvement; they have placed a question box on site, which allows clients to ask questions and receive an answer. Answers are also published in a student-led newsletter to benefit the USA community.
In Dr. Stankey’s Assistive Technology & Community Service course, students participated in GoBabyGo by modifying five toy race cars for children with limited mobility to help increase their interaction with other children at home and outdoors. Two cars were donated to a toylending library at United Cerebral Palsy, two were donated to children in the community, and one will be used in USA’s lab for future trials and lab sessions. The new-found independence the children have will lead to increased play, social participation, and exploration.
The Fisher House
Dr. Terri Roberts oversees student involvement at the Fisher House, which provides military families housing close to hospitals when their family members are undergoing treatment. Students volunteer regularly to coordinate events like dinners and social activities, donate supplies like paper and nonperishable goods, and host fundraisers to benefit the Fisher House.
Community Events to Benefit Seniors
In Dr. Jennie DiGrado and Dr. Chris Childers’ Gerontology courses, students volunteer with local seniors, often by coordinating events like bowling, Frisbee, and Zumba classes at a local senior center. They also conduct cognitive skill and driver screenings, as well as aqua therapy sessions for residents at an independent living community. In addition, students recently participated in a fair focused on low-income seniors’ disaster preparedness and safety, where they performed fall screenings and took vital signs. Students also host a weekly exercise program for a choral group whose members have Parkinson’s disease.
St. Johns Housing Partnership
This summer, Assistant Professor Julie Watson led volunteer work on behalf of the nonprofit St. Johns Housing Partnership in St. Augustine. Students completed home assessments, bathroom modifications, and built ramps for people with disabilities in the community. She initiated the partnership several years ago, but when she saw the array of opportunities for students to contribute, she expanded their services to include home assessments, which allow them to make recommendations that will increase community members’ independence. Students have also raised money to fund projects through St. Johns, recently contributing $3,000 in partnership with local businesses.