Developing an awareness project

Recap of methods used during a workshop by French OT students

On Sunday March, 18th I took part in a workshop with 16 others French OT students, to learn and start to develop an awareness project about difference. This was one of the many workshops who happened during the 12th WEF of UNAEE, a training meeting of 2 days for OT students, who takes place every year in one of the 24 OT Schools in France.

This workshop was held by Marie, UNAEE’s board member, William, president of Sibsters, and Camille who’s also from Sibsters. If you don’t know UNAEE yet, you can have a look at this former article on the blog.

About Sibsters, it’s a young French association, created by William and a friend of his 2 years ago. Sibsters aims to promote and inform about differences, as today many people are left out of society because of their disabilities, origins, sexual orientation, gender, appearance, etc. Thus Sibsters organises events and uses the hashtag #LaDifferenceInspire that means #DifferenceInspires to promote and communicate about difference.

In this article, I’m going to recap methods we used and ideas we had during this workshop, hopefully it will inspire you to develop projects!

William, with the help of others OT students, identified a specific theme which was LSF, French Sign Language.  The main goal of our projects was to raise awareness about French Sign Language and the need of having basis about it, to foster inclusion of hearing-impaired and deaf population in society.

Choose a theme you care about, identify a need in society. As OT students you are aware of inclusion issues curtain population face of in society, then you can help their voice to be heard.

William, Marie and Camille then suggested 3 types of projects to us: a video, a happening and an event. My team and I choose video! You can do whatever you want: a flyer, a congress, a pop-up in shopping centre, a humanitarian mission, etc. Be creative!

Third step… go for it!

Here’s the method we used to pilot our project development: the Five W’s. These are questions whose answers are considered basic in problem solving.

  • WHO?
    • Who’s involved or will be involved in?
    • Who’s the project lead?
    • Who does our project target?
    • Who’s going to implement the project?
  • WHAT?
    • What do we aim?
    • What do we need to develop and implement our project?
    • Which means will we use to reach our goals?
  • WHEN?
    • When will it happen?
    • It’s also about temporal organization of project stages, creating a timeline is helpful.
  • WHERE?
    • Where will it take place?
    • Where the team will meet/communicate?
    • Where can we find resources?
  • WHY?
    • It’s important to wonder WHY before taking any decision!
    • Why this option rather than another one?
  • And we added a sixth question HOW? to the list.
    • How will it happens?
    • How are we going to manage each stage?

 

In just an hour, we managed to have many rich and concrete ideas! When the whole team brings its creativity it’s much simpler than it seems, then just go for it!

 

Hopefully this article inspire you to use your OT student and personal skills to develop an amazing awareness project, looking forward hearing your feedback and your experiences!

(Posted by Marlies on behalf of author- Maurane)

Volunteering as an Occupational Therapy Student: My first experience using my OT skills alone in the big, bad world!

Published by Charlotte (site admin) on behalf of Author Orla.

OT student, Orla, outside ‘the window to knowledge’ children’s centre in Tirana, Albania

 

Tell us about yourself.

Hello, my name is Orla, I am Irish, and studying occupational therapy at Teesside University in the North of England.

Where were you volunteering?

After hundreds of Google searches, I decided upon a centre for marginalised children run by the charity Caritas on the outskirts of Albania’s capital city, Tirana. I volunteered here for 2 weeks in September 2017. The community was made up of minority groups such as Roma and Egyptian families who had moved closer to the capital in search of better opportunities. I was not expecting the levels of poverty I saw. The children lived in slums by a river that flooded every winter and they had no running water or the basics that I expected. ‘I am in a European country after all,’ I thought wrongly. The main aims of the centre were to give 5-18 years olds in the area the chance to gain an education, learn life skills, eat nutritious meals, and partake in sports and fun activities. The 8 members of staff included social workers, a teacher, and a doctor.

 

What were your expectations before volunteering?

I was excited to observe and work along the long-term staff that have deep roots in the community and use my occupational therapy knowledge to support them when appropriate. I made sure to humble myself before beginning this project, being mindful that I was not going to ‘fix their problems’ in 2 weeks but instead encourage and assist long-term staff to continue to make a difference in the lives of these families.

What did you learn from the experience?
First thing I learnt was that I have a lot to learn. Obviously, applying your OT skills on placement when you have an educator to support you is much easier than being on your own. It gave me a taster of what my role-emerging placement could be like and now I know how much preparation will be required. Here are three occupational therapy skills I learnt about during my time in Albania:

 

The therapeutic relationship: music breaks through a language barrier

My biggest difficulty was the language barrier as I don’t speak Albanian. Two members of staff were able to translate but activities often got lost in translation and a new game may have formed before I even finished my explanation; the Albanian version of my activity! My personal favourite was conducting the Kawa river model with the teenage group, my poor translators!

Therefore, my method for establishing therapeutic relationships with the children and teenagers was through music; playing my ukulele and singing. Each morning, the younger children would sit in a line and one-by-one I would teach them chords on my ukulele and let them have a go. I would do the same with the teenagers in the afternoon and perform requested songs (Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber were popular). This quickly led to building relationships with the group without needing the Albanian language. It also encouraged patience and turn-taking as there was one ukulele and 70 of them! One morning was dedicated to an Ireland vs. Albania sing-song where I sang a song and then they sang one in response. It was a treat to hear their amazing voices sing complex melody lines that put our pop songs to shame. I will miss walking into the centre and hearing them shout ‘Orla, kitare (guitar)!’

 

Intervention Planning: leading activities with SMART objectives

In my past volunteering roles, activities had one purpose: to have fun. This time, I was looking through my new OT lens and began to shape these fun activities to have SMART objectives in line with the centre’s overall purpose. This meant facilitating activities that had specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals. In practice, this was an optimistic ask as Albania has a more relaxed culture when it comes to timely goals. But they found it useful that the games had the purpose of developing positive skills and qualities. I focused on their interpersonal skills including communication, turn-taking, and team-work. A highlight was teaching the children the self-care occupation of brushing their teeth as I discovered none of them owned a toothbrush and toothpaste. I organised a donation from Ireland to purchase one set for each child and for the centre’s doctor to give a presentation on the importance of dental hygiene.

 

Assessing the whole picture: projects with holistic approaches are essential to break the poverty cycle

I admired how the centre looked out for the children in every aspect of their lives. For example, they adapted how they taught self-care occupations to how the children would carry them out at home, like using a cup of water to brush their teeth instead of a tap. Also, they realised that there was no point teaching self-care tasks if the parents were not also promoting them at home. Parent meetings were therefore set up, resulting in some great solutions to community issues such as litter picking groups. I loved seeing people that would never come together naturally in the same room making decisions to better their community.

This approach was broadened to all areas of the children’s lives. The social workers made sure the children weren’t treated differently at mainstream school (One day at the school gates, the Roma children were told by their teacher there was no space for them but the social worker fought their case) and were consistently meeting with the local government to try to organise running water and rubbish collection to the area. I am hopeful that when projects like this take a holistic approach to their population, poverty cycles can be broken.

 

What are your plans to keep in touch with this project?

I hope to virtually stay involved in the centre and help them when they need activity ideas to suit a child’s development goal. They now call me their ‘online therapist.’

 

Thanks for reading! What has your experience volunteering as an OT student, at home and abroad, been like? Feel free to ask me a question about this project (or just say hi) on SPOTs forum or on Twitter (@orlatheot).

 

Introducing UNAEE- The French Occupational Therapy Student Nation Association

 


UNAEE is the French occupational therapy student national association. It has been created in 2006 to answer an important representation need.

UNAEE main goals are to defend OT student rights and interests, to represent them within decisive structures and to assist them for the best quality of studies.

UNAEE is independent and not affiliated to any political movement nor religion.

UNAEE federates and gathers every local association from every institute in France and is the only representative association for French OT student on national scale.

UNAEE is composed by 24 local associations. As a matter of fact every 2 542 OT student in France is member of UNAEE, benefits from its work and can contribute to its actions in various ways.

Each year, projects and events are led by a new national crew while politic is discussed with every local association through their administrator.

UNAEE initiates projects in the fields of representation, quality of life improvements, knowledge, studies, culture, citizenship, prevention, solidarity, international mobility and much more!

UNAEE  works  with  a  lot  of  other  associations  in  order  to  promote  OT,  accessibility  and destigmatize disabilities.

We’re willing to get to know more European OT students and share with them about our mutual wonderful profession. You can get news from us on Facebook or on our website.

Feel free to contact us on SPOT’s forum or at  vp-international@unaee.org too!

Comradely,Posted by Charlotte Walker on behalf of author Guilhem Montalbano.

 

“Sense-Aware.” Student Occupational Therapists Start Community Project!

Hello, we are two second year Occupational Therapy students at Plymouth University in the South-West of England. After attending the Royal College of Occupational Therapy conference in June, we were inspired to bring our learning to our local community in a creative way. This led to the development of our project ‘Sense-Aware’!

We both have experience with supporting people with Autism and associated mental health conditions. Currently, we enable young people to attend ‘Rooted’ – a group run by Routeways who are a local Plymouth charity supporting children, young people and their families to overcome disadvantage. ‘Rooted’ facilitates young people’s engagement in outdoor activities, gardening, baking and crafts whilst teaching them social skills and offering them emotional support.

Through attending the group with service users, we recognised that the premises did not have somewhere for young people to spend time when they felt overwhelmed or needed space. In line with Routeways current focus to make the group accessible for young people with Autism, we drew inspiration from a session at the conference on sensory-circuits; and decided to create the project ‘Sense-Aware’ to build this space.

The aim of the ‘Sense-Aware’ project was to research and fundraise for a range of sensory equipment, to educate others about the importance of supporting and managing an individual’s sensory needs within this population. The final aim was to set up a sensory room within the already existing ‘Rooted’ group to benefit those with Autism and facilitate their engagement in a range of activities.

After extensively researching, attending study days and meeting with professionals with first-hand experience in the field, we were able to ascertain a sense of direction for the project. This led us to the fun part – fundraising! We created a gofundme page, got up super early for car boot sales, baked lots of cakes to sell at group and trekked across Dartmoor, which all totalled over £500!! With this, we have managed to purchase lots of equipment and toys, but has also allowed us to create the possibility of staff, carer and parent training within sensory based intervention.  We have also recruited a regular volunteer, Alannah, who will provide 1:1 support for service users who would benefit from having that support in a group setting. Currently in the pipeline is the possibility of collaborating with a Paediatric Occupational Therapist to provide cost-effective assessments for sensory requirements, and provide clinical supervision for our team.

From our experience, we would like to encourage other students to act on their interests and not be discouraged by their level of study. This project has given us insight into our future career and provided endless opportunities. We are massively grateful for everyone who has supported us through this adventure. We would like to pass special thanks to Sam Turner, our lecturer and mentor throughout this process.

Written by Jade & Rachel from Sense-Aware. Posted on their behalf by Charlotte (site admin)

SPOTeurope

You can follow the Sense-Aware team on Twitter: @senseaware_SW

Hop over to our forum or social media pages to chat or ask questions about the Sense-Aware project, or to tell us about your own project. 

Facebook/Twitter: @SPOTeurope

LOOKING FOR NEW BOARDMEMBERS

Do you like to work in an international context? Do you want to enrich your CV? Broaden your (international) network?

SPOTeurope is a community with members from all over Europe in which we exchange knowledge and practices about the OTworld. It’s a community by students for students.
At the moment SPOTeurope is LOOKING FOR NEW BOARDMEMBERS and maybe that’s you! Experience and affinity with ENOTHE is a pre.

What’s in it for you?
You will co-work with other enthusiastic OT students from all over Europe, which will expand your network. You will also acquire new knowledge about happenings within the OTworld. And it really enriches your CV!  It will approximately take up four hours of your time.

Are you interested?
Please send a motivation letter and a description of yourself (max 1 A4) to: info@spoteurope.eu

For more information, go to our website www.spoteurope.eu or our FB/Twitter @SPOTeurope.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us by sending an email to: info@spoteurope.eu .

We have the following openings:

BLOGGER
As blogger you are responsible for writing an refreshing blog once every month about hot topics in the OTworld. This can be an expert interview, a masterclass or something entirely different but interesting.  Next to the monthly blog, the blogger maintains the continuity of the OT-links subpage of the SPOT website.

For this position it is important to try to stay up-to-date about the actions and activities undertaken by occupational therapists and to be able to transform these notions into well written blogs.

PR & SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR
As the editor of the social media you are responsible to keep the Facebook and Twitter up to date with all the news, blogs and happenings around SPOTeurope.  Additionally you will share interesting posts and tweets from other occupational therapy related activities.

For this position it is important to have knowledge about Facebook and Twitter. You also have to be able to communicate in a good way and know how to write short interesting and stimulating posts.

ADMINISTRATOR WEBSITE & FORUM
As the administrator you are responsible for maintaining and refreshing the SPOTeurope website in general and keeping the forum up to date.  This means for example to keep discussions going at the forum and help new members get around. You will also make sure the website looks it’s best.

For this position knowledge about WordPress and MyBB is a pre but not required.

 

 

 

KOEK

We are two occupational therapy students who are curious about prewriting skills of children in other countries and how other OT-students become acquainted with these during their education.
In this blog we write about a Dutch assessment which we were introduced to when we had to screen the prewriting skills of children. We will also share our experiences of this assessment with you. Finally we have some statements we would like to discuss about.

KOEK
We like to write a blog about a Dutch assessment the KOEK. The KOEK is an assessment developed by Hartingsveldt van MJ, Cup EHC, Corstens-Mignot MAAMG (2006). The name KOEK stays for ‘The Short Observation Occupation Toddles’ and is developed for children in pre-school. The English version of the Koek is the SPOT (Screening Prewriting Skills Occupational Therapy) The spot has been developed for: 5 and 6 year old children with mild fine motor problems or 5 and 6 year old children showing even milder problems or children that could not be diagnosed with DCD.

The SPOT aims in offering a guideline for observing fine motor skills in preschoolers. The SPOT is a tool for observation with the emphasis on quality of the performance. It has been developed to be used by occupational therapists to assess whether a preschooler has reached an acceptable level of writing readiness. The SPOT can be used to evaluate fine motor problems in preschoolers as well ( Hartingsveldt, 2006). For the SPOT is no special training needed but a profound study of the manual is necessary. The assessment can be done in 30 minutes.
Components SPOT:

Continue reading

COPMI (Children Of Parents with a Mental Illness)

Following a question on the forum, a discussion has arisen regarding the Children Of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) Australian initiative.

For those of you who are unaware of this, please find below a link to the COPMI website and some journal article titles regarding COPMI to get you started.

http://www.copmi.net.au 

-A “Snapshot” of Australian Programs to Support Children and Adolescents Whose Parents Have a Mental Illness Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 2009, Volume 33, No. 2, 125–132

Evaluation of a resilience-based intervention for children of parents with mental illness 2008 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

We would be keen to hear your experiences of how your country works with clients in this situation? 
– Do you involve children of parents with mental illness in your therapy/ intervention? 
– If so, how do you do this? Do you use specific assessment techniques or interventions?

Or is this an area you feel should be explored more by Occupational Therapists and other healthcare workers in your country

We look forward to hearing your responses!