HCN News & Notes

Community Collaboration Enhances OT Services for Square One

SPRINGFIELD — In support of the Square One mission to ensure that all children have the foundation they need to be successful in life, Bay Path University and Eversource have formed a partnership to enhance the clinical services provided to Square One children.

Eversource recently awarded a $2,500 grant to the university for its Play Matters Therapy program. The funding will be utilized to expand current services and broaden the scope of assessments that will be conducted with children in this program, incorporate nutrition curriculum, and to purchase materials and equipment needed to facilitate movement groups or treatment components.

Students and faculty from Bay Path have provided occupational therapy (OT) services to children at the Square One Family Center on King Street in Springfield for nearly three years through Play Matters Therapy. The Eversource grant further cements the longstanding partnership that dates back years prior to the conception of Play Matters.

“From the ground up, we started building the Play Matters Therapy program that provided free, community-based, occupational-therapy services to the children and families of Square One,” said Amanda Lizotte, coordinator of Emerging Practice Fieldwork at Bay Path University. “The purpose of this program is three-fold: to provide services to children in need to support their overall development, prepare them for entrance to kindergarten, and ensure successful participation in life activities; to provide support to the child’s network, which includes parents, caregivers, and educators, by disseminating resources and education; and to provide Bay Path occupational therapy students, the majority of whom will remain in the region to live and work, with critical experiential learning opportunities that enable them to professionally grow and develop into future occupational-therapy practitioners.”

Under close supervision by clinical OT instructors, students hone their skills as OTs as they work with children across a variety of focus areas — gross and fine motor development, visual motor skills, sensory integration, social skills, nutrition, self-esteem, stress relief, and coping mechanisms, to name a few — in an attempt to help bridge a crucial gap during a critical time in the child’s development. A full-time therapist from the university is also on site at Square One so that services may be provided even when Bay Path students are not present.

“We are so grateful to Bay Path and Eversource for this unique collaboration,” said Kristine Allard, chief Development & Communications officer for Square One. “Many of our children experience trauma in their lives as a result of the challenges they are faced with at home. Poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, abuse, and neglect all place a tremendous strain on their health and development. Our partnership with Bay Path is meeting a critical need. We are very grateful to them, as well as Eversource for recognizing the importance of this work.”