The idea of SPOT was developed during a student meeting at the ENOTHE congress in the Netherlands. Students wanted to create an opportunity to continue socializing and interacting with each other when they got home from the congress. Two students of the HAN university in the Netherlands created the student platform, Ward and Marlies.
From here on the SPOT website was created: spoteurope.eu, which has the opportunity to write blogs therefor (related) OT links.
In 2015 Ward graduated and handed over his duties to Marlies, leaving her as the president of SPOTeurope. During ENOTHE annual meeting student session, students brainstormed about the improvement of SPOT. In these sessions the idea for country representatives (student representatives) was created. These representatives where the bridges between the other European students and could answer questions about OT in their countries.
After the Annual Meeting the SPOT’s facebook page was launched together with the forum on the website. This gave students the opportunity to interact with each other and ask questions.
Besides all these aspects, SPOT has been busy with creating and maintaining network connections with the ENOTHE and COTEC board members by attending presentations at different studies in the Netherlands.
2016 was about creating awareness of SPOTeurope and continuing to expand its network. SPOT got in touch with different OT (student) organisations, e.g. UNAEE and started to co-operate with ENOTHE. All this hard work paid off, and SPOTeurope saw an increase in both organisational connections and student interactions on the forum! SPOT has also created a student representative list including representatives from every OT school in Europe. Yet, this is still in development, so for now students will be informed on preparations they can make towards the annual meeting and student program. As for the ENOTHE annual meeting in Zagreb 2017, SPOT sent in an abstract to do a presentation. SPOT has enabled a student tab on the ENOTHE website which meant that SPOTeurope is the official gateway for ENOTHE to contact OT students in Europe!
Last but not least, SPOT sent out vacancies to expand their board.
SPOT’s board expanded from 1 to 2 for the first time! This lead to a growth in SPOT’s abilities and the creation of the Student Rep position. The Student Rep position was a way for SPOT to be promoted within OT schools across Europe.
The creation of the first miniSPOT allowed SPOT to expand its network into individual schools. A MiniSPOT as opposed to a student rep was a group of students who would continually create their own activities and host meetings that promote internationalisation in occupational therapy.
ENOTHE Annual Meeting in Zagreb, Croatia 2017:
At the ENOTHE annual meeting, students expressed during the feedback session that they felt there should be more student involvement within the ENOTHE board. This created the idea for a student board member. During this annual meeting SPOT also participated in the marketplace for the first time. This provided us with another opportunity to network and connect with students and educators across Europe.
Creation of a Board:
Prior to 2018, SPOT’s board generally consisted of 1-2
members. With the creation of a board, SPOT was able to expand its activities and responsibilities. This included the creation of a blog, a growing social media following, and expanding our network. This is outlined in greater detail below:
The blog allows students to share in depth international experiences they have within occupation therapy. The regular inclusion of guest bloggers allows students to feel a sense of ownership and accomplishment within SPOTeurope. It also helps to expand our network.
By having a social media lead, the social media platforms are updated and monitored daily. Having a regular posting strategy has allowed a large increase in followers. We also launched our instagram page this year!
Having an outreach coordinator allowed SPOT to organise and maintain our connections. The outreach coordinator has been in charge of organising the connections SPOT has made in a central contact list.
Having a miniSPOT coordinator has allowed SPOT to focus on empowering students to focus on internationalisation in their own schools. By having a MiniSPOT coordinator SPOT was able to host a workshop on setting up a miniSPOT. SPOT has also been able to better support our miniSPOTs and connect them to each other.
ENOTHE Annual Meeting and Student Board Member in Lisbon, Portugal 2018:
During the ENOTHE annual meeting the entire SPOT board was invited on stage to promote SPOT and discuss our initiatives. This was seen as a big step for SPOT in ENOTHE recognising us as our own entity. During the 2018 ENOTHE annual meeting, it was decided that a representative form SPOTeurope would be able to sit on the ENOTHE board. This was another huge accomplishment from this meeting and in the coming year we will develop this role to best suit SPOT. SPOT also received feedback from students that they felt the ENOTHE meeting was too focused on educators and hoped that the conference would expand to focus on education as a whole by becoming more student friendly.
Student Board Member:
It was determined that although originally the student board member was the SPOT president, that the president should be fully focussed on SPOT. After much discussion about how to best utilize the student board member of ENOTHE, the board decided to create a unique role on the SPOT board called ‘Student Board Member’. This member will act as a point of contact with ENOTHE and will attend ENOTHE meetings as well as SPOT meetings. Their primary role is to represent SPOT and all students within the ENOTHE board and communicate SPOT’s interests and projects to ENOTHE. To be eligible to sit as student board member, candidates must have at least one year of experience with SPOT including sitting on our board, being a student rep, or being actively involved with a miniSPOT. This is to ensure the member has adequate knowledge and understanding of SPOT’s ethos and goals.
How to Create a Mini-Spot Guide:
Following the success of the Creating a Mini-Spot workshop at ENOTHE 2018, the board decided that an easy to use manual on setting up a mini SPOT was imperative. The mini SPOT guide was created and is now regularly distributed to those interested in creating a mini SPOT. The guide is also available on our website and social media.
Removal of the Forum:
As SPOT’s social media has become the primary way of interacting with students, the forum was not being used much. After much discussion and monitoring of the spoteurope.eu forum, it was decided that the conversations that would have been happening on our forum were happening on our facebook page and on twitter. For this reason, the forum was no longer needed and was removed from our webpage. SPOTs social media has since been the primary way that members interact and engage with each other!
Amalgamation of miniSPOT Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator Roles:
As SPOT became more and more established, more miniSPOTs were being created. This created an overlap in the roles of miniSPOT coordinator and outreach coordinator, as people who were new to SPOT were often directed to the outreach coordinator who then directed them to the miniSPOT co-ordinator. This lead to dissolving the role of miniSPOT co-ordinator and separating some responsibilities between the outreach coordinator and the vice president.
Expanded Budget/Funding Considerations:
SPOT was given a larger budget than ever before this year! This allowed us to have a face-to-face board meeting and ensure that all board members will be able to attend the ENOTHE annual meeting. However, this increase in funding came with considerations of how reliant SPOT is on ENOTHE and considerations for further funding including funding through European parliament. This is paired with SPOT’s desire to build and maintain independence as our own organisation as ENOTHE and COTEC routinely reach out to us to utilise our network in order to access students.
First Face to Face meeting in Apeldoorn, June 2019:
Due to the larger budget we received, SPOT was able to host it first face to face meeting in June 2019. The board came together to work on the preparations for the ENOTHE Annual Meeting and worked on SPOT’s branding. During this weekend we rephrased our mission and vision and gave the website an update.
25TH ENOTHE Annual Meeting in Athens, Greece. October, 2019:
Before the start of the Annual Meeting, SPOT hosted its student pre-conference meeting. During this meeting, we provided a workshop on how students could set up a mini SPOT. This was a great success.
The 25th ENTOHE Annual Meeting was mainly about the evaluation of the student board member. We asked for the opinion of attending students on how we could include them. During the AM, ENOTHE also voted whether they would like to keep the student board member, after the trial year. The result was positive and ENOTHE officially included the student board member within their board.
SPOT also gave a workshop on setting up a workshop which got well attended by students as well as lectures.
Change of board:
At the Annual Meeting SPOT also had a big change in its board. Marlies Nijenhuis said goodbye after her four year duty and handed her president role to Cassandra Christianen.
Vice President: Cassandra Christianen -> Natalie Pickering
Student Board Member: Marlies Nijenhuis -> Vanessa Röck
Social Media: Jena Guimond -> Emma Rodriguez
Blogger: Natalie Pickering -> Emmanouela Kanetaki
Outreach Coordinator: Alex Luvasky -> Emma Schlinquer