The partnership between Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) and the Temple University Master of Occupational Therapy (TUMOT) Program, which began in 2017, continued to flourish in 2018.

Karen Hudson with TUMOT student and HHI volunteer Sekayi Malek Karen Hudson with TUMOT student and HHI volunteer Sekayi Malek after the pinning ceremony Last summer, nine Temple OT students interned with HHI. They were Joanna Reid, Ji Young Shin, Kalena Burnett, Amanda Melocchi, Sekayi Malek, Alexandra Pierce, Jamie Berkowitz, Sophie Gordon and Katelyn Falo. They toured the HHI shelters and learned about the work of HHI and the impact of trauma on families experiencing homelessness.

During their internship, students had opportunities to use their OT lens to learn about the connection of environment and occupation as it relates to this population. They led SPARK sessions, learning group skills and group dynamics, conducted a needs assessment, organized developmentally appropriate library donations for the shelters, raised funds for the teen space at one shelter and participated in the planning of the Keys to Success Job Fair.

The interns created a wonderful week of special and unique programming for mothers, including community collage making, journaling, making macramé plant holders and potting plants, learning knitting and crocheting, and making healthy snacks.

To help mothers learn to better manage stress, the interns gave tips and helped the mothers make a pillow spray to enhance their sleep while staying in shelter. It was an incredible experience for the mothers — and also for the OT interns!

Karen Hudson was invited to give the keynote speech at the TUMOT’s Academic Festival & Pinning Ceremony on Dec. 10, 2018. It was a wonderful way to motivate OT students heading into their final year of OT field placements and to share the work of the HHI-TUMOT collaboration.

Her talk was titled “Leadership in Action: A Partnership Between Social Work and Occupational Therapy.”

Reflections from two Temple University occupational therapy SPARK volunteer leaders

“Central to the vision of occupational therapy is the idea that opportunities to participate in meaningful and important activities are an integral aspect of health and wellness. As current Temple OT students, we have worked hard to bring that vision to the children at St. Barnabas through leading the SPARK sessions each Thursday. These sessions always include activities that encourage the kids to engage in physical activity and to learn more about their own health. But, as we say in our pledge each week, the most important rule is ‘to have fun!’

“We think it is important for the kids to have an opportunity to play with each other. Opportunities for them to engage in games and activities that they look forward to each week are a pivotal part of their healthy development. It has been really important to get to know each of the kids each week and to plan activities they will enjoy, but also to show how special, capable and important each of them are!" — David Miller, Temple University Occupational Therapy student

“Working with SPARK has also been an integral part of our experience as students, and we have learned so much about serving vulnerable populations that we believe will help us better serve all those we encounter throughout our career. For that we are incredibly grateful!” — Natalie Meadows, Temple University Occupational Therapy student