As occupational therapy students at Gannon University continue on their level-one fieldwork, two students are being recognized for their work at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Center for Health and Aging.
Adriana Lasky and Cassandra Shelpman, both junior occupational therapy majors, are helping a small group of older adults learn and enjoy activities relating to their psychological health.
The six-week community program focuses on helping older adults maintain their health and quality of life, Shelpman said. Usually, they have six to 10 participants each week.
Wednesday will mark their fifth week of the program.
“Week five is going to be a gardening activity and garden ergonomics,” Lasky said. “They will be painting flowerpots and get to chose one type of plant to grow from a seed. They will learn about plant stands, raised flowerbeds and the benefits of staying active even if it doesn’t seem like that much.”
In previous weeks, the students have led the group in chair yoga to educate about fall prevention, made a sensory sugar scrub and have helped provide technological tips, Shelpman said.
“My favorite was when we talked about the technology,” she said. “We would go up to each of them individually to answer any questions they had. They really appreciated it.”
In this week of the program, they helped teach how to send emails, open web browsers and helped one woman set up a Facebook account. Her face lit up, Lasky said.
Similarly to Shelpman’s favorite, Lasky said her favorite week of the program was one that allowed them to get closer with their clients.
“My favorite was the fall prevention week, since it gave me perspective,” she said. “Many of the seniors have had serious falls. It was another case of getting closer with your clients.”
Although they picked their specific fieldwork location out of a bowl, they both said they’re happy with their community program.
“I personally really enjoy it,” Shelpman said. “I think it opened me up to a whole new population I never would’ve picked to work with on my own. It also opened me up to the psych world in OT.”
Lasky, too, said she was very happy with her work at LECOM.
“I really enjoy it,” she said. “I like getting to know the participants. Since I’m not from Erie, I like hearing the history and their recommendations on where to go. I got a lot of pizza place suggestions.”
Lasky and Shelpman are just one of two other Gannon occupational therapy students currently in the Erie community, said Amy Brzuz, Ph.D., an assistant professor in Gannon’s occupational therapy program.
“This group is part of a class teaching people how to help with the mental health part of wellness,” Brzuz said.
Other groups are working in the Soldiers and Sailors Home, the Crime Victim Center and some L’Arche homes, Lasky said. There are also several others.
Level-one fieldwork is the first in a series of four weeks for OT students, with level one focusing on mental and psychological wellness, Brzuz said.
“I think it’s a really good first step in the professional world,” Shelpman said.
During the fieldwork, the students have an opportunity to learn a variety of soft skills while beginning to get experience as an occupational therapist, Lasky said.
“Even something as simple as getting used to talking to people, learning a good therapeutic voice and professional behavior is really beneficial,” Lasky said.