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News from the Student Occupational Therapy Association 2010

It is hard to believe that another school year has come and gone. This year the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) at UW-Madison has taken part in many exciting events. Some of the highlights from this year include participation in the annual WOTA and AOTA conferences, the Caroline Thompson lecture given by Patricia Davies, fundraising for and representation at the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis and the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics, a series of occupational justice events with Frank Kronenberg, and another year of success with the Craft Fair and Job Fair.

Students represented the UW-Madison MSOT program well at the state and national OT associations. Both this year and next, students from our organization were elected to serve as student representatives for WOTA. At the AOTA conference, Jenn Barry represented UW-Madison at the Assembly of Student Delegates, which is a committee that aims to connect students to the national organization. Members worked hard to prepare for the AOTA conference by securing grant support and making the necessary travel arrangements. A large number of students also volunteered at the AOTA conference. Upon returning, those who attended this year’s AOTA conference were able to share what they learned from attending sessions and viewing posters with their peers. Students are already looking forward to next year’s conference in Philadelphia, PA.

An experience we will surely not forget was our visit from Frank Kronenberg regarding occupational justice. A number of SOTA members worked diligently to not only make this event reality, but also an immense success. We had a wonderful time learning about Frank’s work, hearing from a panel of guests, engaging in discussions about occupational justice, and exploring our “occupassions.”

The fundraising co-chairs headed up a busy successful year of fundraising for SOTA. Our partnership with Alliant Energy Center provided a variety of fundraising opportunities including Band Camp, the American Idols Concert, a rodeo, and the Deer and Turkey Expo. Just before the holidays, our craft sale offered last-minute shoppers beautiful handmade gifts. In November and February, we participated in Boston Store’s Community Days event, which supports non-profit organizations through the sale of coupon books. Finally, our students hosted the first ever SOTA Flapjack fundraiser with the help of a local restaurant. We greatly appreciate all of you who have supported our fundraising efforts this year.

Members of SOTA also participated in many ongoing and one-time service events within the community. Many volunteered at the Walk 4 Autism in October by lending their talents in face painting and directing participants. Several students also helped setup and play Wii, as well as run craft groups with older adults at Quaker Housing. In addition to MSOT students selling their work at the Craft Fair, our service co-chairs also invited Arts 4 All, which is a group of artists with disabilities pursuing art for a living. Many students also enjoyed giving their time through Candlelighters once a month to serve families of children with cancer. Overall, it has been a rewarding year with many great service opportunities.

Through our outreach co-chairs, SOTA participated in the WOTA conference, contributed to a large student forum, and each class created a basket for the silent auction. We also reached out to an OT in the Army by sending therapy items and other needed items to the soldiers in Afghanistan. April is traditionally Occupational Therapy month, so students handed out candy around the Medical Sciences Center and Health Sciences Learning Center to spread the word about OT.

Our social co-chairs also organized numerous social events to foster relationships outside of the classroom. Students enjoyed holiday parties, potlucks, and student mixers around Madison at the end of stressful times like midterms and finals. Members of SOTA plan to attend a Mallards game and informal gatherings this summer. In April, several students participated in a low ropes course offered by UW-Madison’s ALPs program. The day was filled with team building activities, and this alternative approach to learning provided these SOTA members with strategies that will be useful as future occupational therapists. This is an event that we hope to continue in future semesters.

The interdisciplinary team had a successful year of exposing the class to different academic fields and campus events that pertain to our scope of practice. The Wiley Seminars at the Waisman Center provided a wide range of information on current research related to developmental disabilities. The Kinesiology department also hosted numerous speakers, from whom our classmates sought information. Students were also encouraged to take part in the Heath Classrooms Symposium. In addition, we corresponded with other graduate disciplines at the University throughout the year, which was beneficial when recruiting participants for the annual job fair. The Body Donor Ceremony was again held this May, and many students from OT, PT, PA, and the Medical School put on a touching ceremony to honor the donors and thank their family and friends. We hope to build strong and sustainable relationships that will continue through the next academic year and beyond.

SOTA closed out the 2009-2010 academic year with a banquet featuring keynote speaker George Bennett, who shared his inspiring story as a burn survivor. The banquet was a time for faculty, family, and friends to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class. The MSOT Class of 2010 is the fourth to graduate. We wish them the best of luck in their fieldwork this summer and fall. SOTA would also like to welcome the incoming Class of 2012. A welcome lunch and mentorship program are in place to meet the new students and assist with their transition to graduate school. SOTA looks forward to another great year of being active in the campus and surrounding community.

Submitted by Meredith Pokel

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