Through a collaborative program with Humble ISD, LSC-Kingwood's OTA students are serving as mentors to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Project Connection began in January 2009 and focuses on helping 19-22 year old students learn skills for independence in an age appropriate setting with emphasis on each student's individual education plan (IEP).
Each week, a peer mentor provides a therapeutic activity that is suitable for all of the students in the group. Emphasis is placed on social conduct, interpersonal skills and self-esteem. These activities help OTA students practice the skills they have been taught and will be using daily in their careers as OTA's, as well as practicing life-long skills with the Project Connection students.
"This program helps the Project Connection students learn to apply skills for independent living," says Dr. Dorothy Rhoda, Project Connection supervisor with Humble ISD. "They work on activities that help with their fine motor and gross motor coordination and employability skills, as well as activities that help with understanding things like time management and social skills."
Linda Gallander, assistant professor in the OTA program, says, "I am excited to see the relationships that have developed between our students and the Project Connection students. They really enjoy each other and the students practice the skills they have been taught in class in a hands-on situation."
OTA student Eric Potter says the opportunity to work with the students in Project Connection has been very rewarding. "I really enjoy working with people, but for some reason working with this group has been extra special. It really has been a personally enriching experience to be able to become a friend to these guys, to add some laughter and put a smile on their faces. Those guys really know how to live in the moment and enjoy life, and I am definitely blessed to have learned that from them."
The OTA program is a full-time, daytime program beginning each January. Program curriculum is developed under the guidance of the American Occupational Therapy Association and includes academic and technical courses. In the final semester, students are placed in local healthcare facilities to complete fieldwork requirements. Students graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree and are eligible to take the national certification exam to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Most states, including Texas, require licensure in order to practice.
Occupational therapy assistants work with clients with physical and mental challenges. These may include infants with developmental problems, persons with mental disabilities, people who have suffered strokes or brain injury or those with physical disabilities. COTA's work in a variety of job settings, including hospitals, mental health centers, nursing homes, schools, and home health agencies.
April is OT month and to celebrate, the OTA students will address the question, What is OT, through four presentations or skits. The presentations will include a general overview of the OT profession, the role of the OTA, comparing/contrasting OT to other healthcare professions, and discussions of OT intervention in a variety of healthcare settings. The presentations will be held on Thursday, April 30, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Student Center/Fine Arts Building, Room 125/126. For more information, contact Linda Gallander at Linda.F.Gallander@lonestar.edu or call 281-312-1525.
Registration for the fall semester will continue up until the first day of class, August 24, 2009. Register in one of three ways: phone, online or on campus. Classes are offered days, evenings, or weekends in traditional, Internet, video, TV and independent study formats. Current students can register by telephone at 281-519-6625. Former and current students can register online at Kingwood.LoneStar.edu/registration.
For general information about Lone Star College-Kingwood, call 281-312-1600 or visit our Web site at Kingwood.LoneStar.edu.
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including Cy-Fair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and the Lone Star College-University Center. With over 50,000 students, it is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas.