Therapy play area During 2017, the Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) developed a partnership with Temple University’s Master of Occupational Therapy Program (TUMOT). TUMOT students became involved with HHI’s Operation Choices/SPARK wellness program, bringing a fresh approach to programming with the dual goals of improving participation and function for participants, while gaining valuable experience in a field that remains an emerging area of OT practice.

Kayla Bender, a Temple University student, shares her perspective about the HHI and TUMOT partnership:

"OT is founded on the assumption that health and quality of life can be achieved through engagement in activities that are meaningful and important to us. Families experiencing homelessness often have limited opportunities to participate in their lives in ways that are meaningful and important to them.

Working with HHI, first as a volunteer, then as a TUMOT fieldwork student, has opened my eyes to the benefits of bringing an OT approach to programming and the potential for including OT in the continuum of care that HHI provides to members of this community.

We have been able to put our education into practice, providing a strength-based experience for the kids in the SPARK program while promoting health and quality of life — both cornerstones of OT and HHI. Our unique lens as OT students has been especially helpful when working through certain challenges that sometimes arise with children who are experiencing homelessness, ensuring that each gets the chance to be a child.

We look forward to developing this relationship and exploring the ways TUMOT and CHOP HHI can continue working together in the future to improve the lives of families living in shelter."