News from the Student Occupational Therapy Association 2012
The Student OT Organization (SOTA) had a fantastic year, with involvement in both old and new philanthropic events, interdisciplinary meetings and events, career development opportunities, fundraisers for various causes, and participation in AOTA and the annual conference in Indianapolis, Ind.
AOTA Conference and Interdisciplinary Development
Ten of our students attended the 92nd annual AOTA Conference and Expo in Indianapolis this year. The students attended lectures, workshops, round tables, poster presentations, and expos on varying topics throughout the day. Two students, Vanessa Eisch and Megan Janssen, were presented with an award for their video encouraging students to join AOTA. The experience proved to be extremely informative and inspiring.
Many family, friends, and other supporters attended a fundraiser at High Noon Saloon where local talent performed to raise money for the trip. Also, our students were recognized for our membership in AOTA, with the class of 2013 achieving 100 percent membership and the class of 2012 achieving 96 percent membership.
The interdisciplinary chairs worked hard this year to facilitate partnerships with other health care disciplines at UW, including students in the UW Medical School, Physical Therapy program, Pre-OT Student Organization (POTSO), UW-Madison Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), and UW-Veterinary students. In March, SOTA members participated in organizing the Body Donor Program Ceremony hosted annually by the UW Medical School, an event created to honor donors and their families. Many SOTA members attended other inter-disciplinary events, including a fundraiser for the humane society hosted by the UW Veterinary students and an “Inter-D” barbeque social.
The interdisciplinary chairs have been especially active in coordinating with the Physical Therapy student organization, Phi-Theta, for several events and to brainstorm ideas to facilitate more interaction between the two disciplines. SOTA teamed with Phi-Theta in new events, including an Adopt-a-Family “Penny War” in the fall, and the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics in the winter. The Interdisciplinary committee also helped to organize several visits with POTSO and HOSA members in order to educate the undergraduate students about the broad field of OT and providing them with the opportunity to have a graduate student mentor.
SOTA members were very active in fundraising this year. In addition to raising money for a family in need for the holidays in the Adopt-a-Family “Penny War” and the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics, SOTA members participated in various fundraisers throughout the year. SOTA hosted an Arts and Craft Fair that featured crafts created by SOTA members and seven local artists associated with Artworking, a local organization that provides career support to artists with cognitive disabilities.
SOTA also hosted a fundraiser in which a portion of the proceeds benefitted Gio’s Garden, a local non-profit organization provides resources and respite care for children with disabilities. In addition, SOTA members participated in Boston Store’s Community Days event, which also supports non-profit organizations through the sale of coupon books. SOTA raised over $5000 this year to benefit local organizations.
For several years, SOTA has been committed to service with two organizations: the Badger Childhood Cancer Network (BCCN) and the Quaker House. The BCCN is a nonprofit organization that offers services for families with children who are affected by pediatric cancer. Volunteers engage the children with fun activities while their parents attended support group meetings. The Quaker House provides housing for low-income seniors in Madison. This year, SOTA members helped with a flu education session, BINGO, and participated in other craft projects with the residents throughout the year.
SOTA members worked diligently to expand volunteer services in the greater Madison community. In the fall, SOTA members led sessions for Expanding Your Horizons, a program that gives middle school girls hands-on exposure to math and science-based professions. SOTA members explained what occupational therapy is, and let students try adaptive equipment, practice getting dressed using only one side of their body (as if they were recovering from a stroke), and try some sensory integration activities. In addition, SOTA members volunteered to help organize and run a Run/Walk fundraiser for Respite in which proceeds benefitted Gio’s Garden.
In April, SOTA hosted an outreach session where OT students were able to learn about networking and job hunting. A representative from the Career Tree Network gave a tour of the company’s website, which specializes in connecting OT job seekers with potential employers in Wisconsin. A panel of human resource personnel from local health agencies gave tips on resumes, job searching, and interviews. Also, the Community Outreach chairs organized the annual Rehabilitation Job Fair in March, which recruited vendors to discuss potential career opportunities for prospective graduates.
At the end of the year, SOTA members organized the annual OT Bash located in the heart of campus with the goal of spreading the word about the field of occupational therapy. Members created posters and organized tables filled with information about the different areas of practice in OT. Those who were curious were able to experience using a wheelchair, make their own stress balls, and engage in conversation about OT and the UW-MSOT program.
Events and Activities
There was no shortage of social activities organized by SOTA’s social chairs, as students were provided many opportunities to enjoy Madison together socially.
In order to further acquaint the first and second year classes, the social chairs set the students up on a Ropes Course organized by Adventure Learning Programs (ALPS) in which the students worked on teambuilding, collaboration, and problem solving through various tasks and challenges. Students came together during the holidays for potluck dinners, Concerts on the Square, Badger football games, Adult Swim at the local Children’s museum, and other athletic events including kickball and broomball.
The MSOT Class of 2012 enjoyed a graduation banquet organized by SOTA in May-the sixth to graduate from UW-Madison. Many SOTA members from the class of 2013 welcomed the incoming OT class with a lunch during orientation on June 8. SOTA’s new chair members are already busy planning for another successful year ahead!