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Thelma Cardwell

Thelma Cardwell Research Day

Save the Date!

Thelma Cardwell Research Day
Wednesday, June 28th
at O.I.S.E.
 
The annual Thelma Cardwell Research Day highlights the research conducted by 2nd year students in the MScOT program at the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy.
 
Join us in celebrating the innovative and exciting work of OS&OT students!
 
(more information will be posted as it becomes available)

Alex Mihailidis Addresses Standing Senate Committee

On March 9, 2017, Dr. Alex Mihailidis made a presentation to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. The committee has been examining the role of robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence in the health care system. Alex was representing AGE-WELL, the Network of Centres of Excellence of which he is a Scientific Director.

Alex’s presentation and his answers to questions from the committee may be read in the Senate of Canada website.

Jade and Mallory Ryan

Dance Ability Movement Helps Fulfill Kids’ Dreams

The Ryan Sisters are truly inspirational! OS&OT Alumni, they have used their occupational therapy expertise and passion for dance to develop Dance Ability Movement which provides inclusive dance programs for all children.
 
 
It is the dream of many young children to learn to dance, and children’s dance classes are immensely popular. However, children with disabilities often face barriers to participation in dance. This is why the work that the Ryan Sisters do through The Dance Ability Movement is truly inspirational. They use their passion for dance and their skills and knowledge as occupational therapists to develop safe, inclusive dance classes for children of all abilities. The Ryan sisters and The Dance Ability Movement were recently profiled by CTV Toronto.

Mallory and Jade have danced all of their lives and both shared the dream that they could combine their enthusiasm for dance with their chosen careers in occupational therapy (OT). They recognized the limited opportunities for children with different abilities to participate in dance classes in their home community so they formed Dance Ability, a dance program tailored for children of all abilities. The first class commenced in 2010 at a local studio in Milton, Ontario with a team of volunteers providing 1:1 support and assistance for a small group of children with various needs. With growing demands and recognition of their services, Mallory and Jade officially launched their own business, The Dance Ability Movement, with the goal of “sharing the opportunity to dance with dancers of all abilities on a large scale and continuing to promote inclusivity and participation in the community for people with different needs”. The program is currently active in six host studios in the Greater Toronto Area, and more studios are being considered. The Ryan Sisters have no difficulty in recruiting volunteers, many of whom are dancers themselves who wish to share their love of dance with young aspiring dancers.

Aside from providing opportunities to participate in dance classes, The Dance Ability Movement offers summer programs to address various OT goals. For example, Set the Stage Camp combines a handwriting program with music and dance to assist pre-school and primary age children to develop their school readiness and specific motor skills. Art Expressions Camp provides participants a safe space to explore dance styles as well as other art forms and means of self-expression.

Mallory and Jade are currently pursuing various goals and future initiatives including the following:

  • Supporting schools in Toronto to include Dance Ability Movement dancers in their arts nights and talent shows, plus encouraging schools to offer more movement and dance opportunities for these students as part of their curriculum.
  • Exploring the role of dance as more than just a leisure occupation, but as a potential vocation for some of the dancers with disabilities who participate in The Dance Ability Movement programs who have the talent and passion to pursue dance further.
  • Providing more programming and support systems to keep youth with different needs engaged as active members in their communities.

They also feel honored to have been recently selected as “Agents of Change for Community Health” through the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, and are currently pursuing various goals and future initiatives including the following:

  • Aligning their model with existing OT models and theories to better advocate for community leisure programs and the importance of addressing the environment and societal perspectives to meet everyone’s needs

Mallory and Jade also maintain close ties with the MScOT program at University of Toronto by participating in various labs and delivering guest lectures to educate and inspire future generations of OTs. Through The Dance Ability Movement, Mallory and Jade are making important contributions towards creating community environments where inclusion of children with varying abilities is the norm. Their programs provide opportunities to enable children to express themselves through dance and other art forms, and to realize their potential.

Tsering Wangmo

Colleen Tate Memorial Bursary

On January 30, the Department presented the annual Colleen Tate Memorial Bursary to Year 1 student Tsering Wangmo after receiving several nominations from her classmates. The award is presented to the student, chosen by his/her classmates, who is in good academic standing and who best exemplifies the qualities that Colleen was known for. These include being generous, kind-hearted, accommodating, and outgoing.

Congratulations Tsering!

Dr. Helene Polatajko

Dr. Helene Polatajko at TEDxToronto

On October 27th, 2016, Dr. Helene Polatajko spoke at the 2016 TEDxToronto conference. Recognized internationally for her work in cognitive-based treatments for children and adults with occupational performance challenges, Dr. Polatajko’s approach – known as CO-OP (Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance) – has become a standard throughout the world.

View the presentation >>

Dean Trevor Young

Rehabilitating the World

In honour of the 2016 graduating classes from the rehab sector, The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine’s, Trevor Young, has written an article in the MedEmail publication. Dean Young speaks highly of the international focus of efforts in Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Language Pathology, and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute.

Read the full article in MedEmail, Nov. 9

Jill Stier

Theatrical Performance Techniques and OTs

 
At the Richard Reznick Wilson Centre Research Day, on November 4, Jill Stier presented results of the research she and her colleagues have done into OT students’ experiences and perceptions of theatre practice workshops. Prior research demonstrated better communication skills, but more work was needed.

Below is an abstract of their presentation.
 
 
“The emphasis on client-centered care highlights the role of humanities in educating clinicians. Evidence from performance studies and cognitive neuroscience suggest actor training techniques can enhance empathy and self-awareness. Therefore, our group developed a novel workshop utilizing theatre techniques to encourage embodied practice and enhance self-awareness and reflexivity amongst occupational therapy (OT) students. Our prior research demonstrated improved client communication skills in students receiving the workshop. However, students’ perceptions of the workshop, particularly in relation to embodied practice, remain unexplored.

Research Question: To explore how students perceived the learning experiences of the theatre practice workshop and their conceptualizations of embodied practice.

We used a constructivist grounded theory approach, combining workshop observations with interview data. Post-workshop interviews were conducted with students from three OT cohorts at varied points, to explore perceptions and experiences of the workshop, relation of the workshop to practice, and students’ conceptualizations of embodied practice. We adopted the constant comparative method for analysis.

Participation in the theatre practice workshop encouraged participants to develop embodied practice as a key to understanding themselves and others. Students described that their experience in the workshop enhanced their capacity to empathize with clients by recognizing personal contexts, and requiring them to overcome uncertainty and embrace discomfort to learn in this way. A safe learning space was vital in this realization and allowed some students to revisit otherwise suppressed aspects of learning through the arts.

Incorporation of theatre techniques into OT training may enhance students’ communication with clients in important and nuanced ways. Embodied practice is a complex concept; an arts-based approach may help students acknowledge and appreciate such attentive practices in their training.”

Jill Stier M.A., OT Reg. (Ont.)
Laura-Jayne Nelles MFA PhD (c)
Stella Ng PhD.
Catharine M. Walsh MD, MEd, PhD, FRCPC
 
 

For more information about the project, contact Jill Stier: Jill.stier@utoronto.ca
 
Visit the Wilson Centre website for more information about the Richard Reznick Research Day.