SRINGFIELD — Occupational Therapy students at American International College recently worked with East Longmeadow High School students as part of a new pilot program.
The College Opportunity Program, developed by the graduate students in the OT program, is a collaboration with the East Longmeadow school system that brought six high-school-age students to AIC to gain college experience.
AIC Occupational Therapy Associate Professor Dr. Jeanne Morin organized the partnership as an effort to promote skill development and social participation in a college setting for the young adults with special needs.
“Our students lead and participate with the students who come, giving the East Longmeadow students the opportunity to interact with a peer group close to their ages, and our students an opportunity to identify an area of need that can be addressed over the four-week period working on program development,” Morin said.
High-school and college students worked together as peers to promote safety and independence in their lives. Three groups of students were assembled to develop goals for the program and accomplish tasks that encouraged group decision-making.
The four-week-long program began on March 22 with an assessment to discover the specific needs of individual program participants. The information gathered was used to develop a comprehensive program tailor-made for each group’s goals.
The students at AIC structured programs to include collages, bingo, and role-playing. The program culminated with presentations that summarized the activities performed over the four weeks, as well as a discussion about skills learned. All program participants received a certificate of completion upon graduation of the program.
Morin said she is hoping to continue the College Opportunity Program and expand upon this partnership.
“Our students look forward to continuing the promotion of peer relationships, shared decision-making, and self-awareness with local students,” she said.