Julie and Jessica are students in the occupational therapy program at the University of Pittsburgh. They began coming to the Fithian House January for fieldwork. Both Julie and Jessica have stated, “It has been a wonderful opportunity and we have enjoyed spending our Tuesdays with the residents and staff. ” This experience has given them the opportunity to go on many fun community outings with the residents including a trip to The National Aviary (pictured). Others have included going to the Ross Park Mall, Wal-Mart, and Giant Eagle. In addition to the outings, Julie and Jessica planned several activities at the Fithian House. One of their first activities was a wheelchair zumba group that encouraged physical activity for the residents. For St. Patrick’s Day, they threw a party featuring rainbow pancakes, tie-dye t-shirt making, and Irish trivia. For Easter the residents made candy to take home to their families and dyed Easter eggs. All of these activities were great opportunities for the residents to get together to talk, laugh, and show their creativity.
Over their weeks with the residents, they had the opportunity to get to know everyone personally, learning more about each of their unique personalities and stories. Each resident brought a different contribution to the activities whether it be encouraging others to participate or telling jokes. Everyone participated in making the activities a success.
As occupational therapy students, Julie and Jessica were happy to be able to facilitate social participation and communication each day, as well as encouraging independence in all activities. Jessica stated, “It was a great opportunity that will continue to influence us as we pursue our careers and we hope that our time at the Spina Bifida Association will continue to influence the residents as well.”