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100th Anniversary Breakfast


On 21 February 2018, the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy will kick off celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Occupational Therapy education at the University of Toronto. The purpose of that first program was for ward aides to learn how to use occupational therapy to help injured soldiers of World War I return to a satisfying and productive life. One hundred years later, we are proud to mark the growth of our program as we prepare students to work across populations and settings to meet much the same goal of enabling people to lead satisfying and productive lives.

We invite you to join us for a celebratory breakfast. This event will be an occasion to join fellow alumni, current students, professors, teaching partners in the community, and members of our wider health care community as we celebrate the continued success of the Department.

What: 100th Anniversary Celebratory Breakfast, light refreshments provided
When: Wednesday, February 21st, 8:00 am – 10:00 am. Faculty of Medicine Dean Trevor Young and Chair of the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy Susan Rappolt will address the gathering beginning at 8:30 a.m. 
Where: Alumni Café, 1st floor, 500 University Avenue, Toronto

RSVP by February 13 through the Faculty of Medicine Alumni Office here.  

Rappolt Family

Siblings honour brother: Scholarships in OS&OT

The Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto are pleased to jointly announce the Peter Rappolt Family Scholarships for Research in Occupational Performance and Wellbeing.  Read about the Rappolt Family’s story: Siblings honour brother: scholarships in occupational science and therapy.

Beginning in 2018, the Peter Rappolt Family Scholarship for Research in Occupational Performance and Wellbeing will be awarded to a second year MScOT student in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy who is undertaking a MScOT Graduate Research Project to improve the occupational performance and wellbeing of individuals with serious mental illness and developmental or chronic health conditions, and who has achieved the highest overall standing in Year I research courses.

At the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, the endowed Peter Rappolt Family Scholarship for Research in Occupational Performance and Wellbeing will be awarded based on academic merit to a graduate of a World Federation of Occupational Therapists-approved entry-level occupational therapy program who is enrolled in the first year doctoral program to undertake research to improve the occupational performance and wellbeing of individuals with serious mental health concerns and complex developmental and chronic health conditions.

The Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy are incredibly grateful to the Rappolt family for their thoughtful consideration of students and research in establishing these awards in honour of their brother, Peter.  Their generosity and understanding of the need for occupational science and occupational therapy graduate research funding is greatly appreciated and truly valued.

Class Of '97 Reunion

Class of ’97 Reunion

On November 4, 2017, a reunion was held for the Class of 1997. The first class to graduate in the fall, the students were in what was called the “2+2+ program” (two years undergrad plus 2 years plus in OT). It was a way of restructuring the program in preparation for the MScOT which was phased in a few years later.

SCHOOLFirst Project Supports Youths with Concussion

Holland Bloorview’s SCHOOLFirst project has received $125,000 in funding from the Federal Government. Dr. Nick Reed, Assistant Professor at OS&OT and co-director of Holland Bloorview’s Concussion Centre, is part of the team developing the SCHOOLFirst project whose goal is to support youths returning to school after a concussion.
Read the announcement from Holland Bloorview >>
Read the Press Release from the Government of Canada >>

Pictured from L to R: Dr. Nick Reed, co-director of Holland Bloorview’s Concussion Centre and clinician scientist; Becky Green, superintendent of education, student achievement and school operations, York Region District School Board (involved in SCHOOLFirst project); MP Rob Oliphant; Rose Kristiansen, CEO, PACE Concussion; and Stewart Wong, vice-president of marketing, communications, and advocacy, Holland Bloorview. (photo courtesy of Holland Bloorview)

OS&OT Alumna Named YMCA Woman of Excellence

Michelle Quintyn (‘81) is the President and CEO of Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes, and one of eight leaders recognized in 2017 as a YMCA woman of excellence in the category of Business and Professionals. These titles only begin to describe Michelle’s many accomplishments, as her passion for building and supporting inclusive communities began long before Michelle became an OT.

Michelle grew up in Southwestern Ontario, near London. While in high school, she worked in a nursing home where she first encountered marginalized populations. Michelle went on to study nursing at Ryerson University and worked in this role for a few years at Wellesley Hospital. As a nurse, Michelle was exposed to variety of practice settings and professionals, including OT. Over time, Michelle found herself increasingly fascinated by interior design and creating inclusive spaces and communities for people living with disability. Michelle soon returned to Toronto to pursue a degree in OT, with the intention of working in an administrative role after graduation.

Upon graduating, Michelle first worked as a clinical OT for a short time. In this role, she had a client with Parkinson’s and realized that there were no available support groups for this population. In collaboration with her client, Michelle became the founder of the Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario. Early in its origin, Michelle began to experience frustration that the organization was not earning anywhere near its capacity. In response to this realization, Michelle took it upon herself to learn about fundraising and development for healthcare to help the Society reach its full potential.

Although Michelle continued to volunteer with the Society for 9 years, she found herself moving on to a new role in 1986 as the founding Executive Director, University Hospital Foundation and Vice-President of Development of the Hospital in London, Ontario. In this role, Michelle was able to integrate her knowledge of OT, nursing, healthcare, and fundraising to help facilitate health and community development projects. More than a decade later, Michelle moved on to spearhead the re-development of London’s Covent Garden Market. Michelle’s OT background was particularly beneficial as she worked with 52 small businesses on various vocational pursuits. After the successful rebuild and launch of the market, Michelle found herself in her current role at Goodwill Industries.

Michelle described herself as ‘coming home to her OT career’ upon transitioning to Goodwill. This organization is one of the world’s largest social enterprises and the largest employer of individuals living with disabilities, per capita, in Ontario. Michelle’s background makes her the perfect fit to be President and CEO of Goodwill Industries. Goodwill emphasizes vocational employment for disadvantaged populations facing barriers to employment, including physical, mental, social challenges. Goodwill also supports functional planning of communities to enable equality and social inclusion. Michelle is able to use her OT background to consider a broad perspective of clients and better understand the barriers they face within their social contexts. Not only does Michelle’s OT background perfectly align with the missions of the organization, but she has also led Goodwill from an old, tired thrift business to a place of prosperity and community by using her functional planning and entrepreneurial skills. In the time Michelle has been with Goodwill, revenue has increased to $27 million and the number of employees have grown from 160 to 650 – many facing barriers such as disability and social disadvantage.

Michelle’s passion for her role stems from seeing clients’ lives transform through the power of work. Michelle’s clients are her inspiration, as she is able to witness individuals who began with little self-worth, minimal education, and limited social opportunity become productive citizens and leaders in their own right. Michelle plans to continue to help facilitate this transformation for individuals beyond Southwestern Ontario. She is now leading the charge to expand Goodwill into Toronto, and will strive to create over 900 jobs within the next 5 years.

We are so privileged to have such an accomplished woman as an alumni of our Department. She is a motivating force to all, and has helped transform the lives of many individuals. We can only wait to see what amazing things she will inspire in the future!

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:
Visit the Wilson Centre website for more information about the Richard Reznick Research Day.

Dr. Deirdre Dawson

Deirdre Dawson and “Real World Strategy Training”

Highlighted in the Rotman Research Institute’s Annual Report for 2015-2016, is the work of Deirdre Dawson. Deirdre’s “Real World Strategy Training (RWST)” intervention, based on the goals of the individual, manages cognitive decline and enables older adults to live independently for longer.

Read more about this timely and important work on page 12 of the Rotman Research Institute Annual Report.