Community Engagement

Engaging in activities that result in successful interaction in the community is necessary for individuals served by occupational therapy practitioners. As such, the UCA program utilizes community engagement as a vital teaching and learning tool for its students.  A goal of the program is for students to articulate and apply therapeutic use of occupations with individuals or groups for the purpose of participation in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community and other settings.


Service Learning

Service learning is a unique form of community engagement that challenges our students to push the borders of the classroom across the entire community. This past year, we saw over 700 total hours given in service to the community. In accordance to the overarching goals of our program, service learning challenges students to use their client-centered and occupation based approaches during their time onsite. These interactions help students to identify the need for occupational therapy services among various community groups, organizations and populations. For the community partners, positive relationships are constantly being formed and maintained through these experiences.

Group shot 2aArkansas Enterprise for the Intellectual/Developmentally Disabled Inc.

“We provide employment opportunities to disabled individuals under the guidelines and regulations of the U.S. Department of Labor. Skill development in a variety of tasks is provided to individuals served by AEDD. Work opportunities are offered at the 80,000 square foot Adult Skills Training Center in Little Rock, which includes four loading docks, ample work force, and a totally air-conditioned production area. We maintain a staff of both disabled and non-disabled workers, and supervisory personnel.”

Students create activities and socialize with adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities as they perform their work duties during the day. In the evening Acting Creates Therapeutic Success (ACTS) in the Rock is hosted at this location. ACTS is a community-based program designed to provide opportunities for engagement in the performing arts for individuals with all abilities while also encouraging occupational therapy students to understand the empowerment of human capabilities through the arts. The adults have two performances, one per semester, in the fall/winter and spring.  Occupational therapy students have the opportunity to help with each of the productions.

“It taught me that friendship knows no color, no disability, and no social status. We all just want to be loved on and to love on others.”

Arc Arkansas

“The Arc Arkansas provides supports, housing, advocacy, education and leadership to people with disabilities and their families.  The Arc assists and encourages individuals with disabilities in acquiring skills and supports, which allow them to make decisions regarding their own lives, helping them to achieve integration into the mainstream of community life.  These personalized supports are outcome oriented, dependable, effective and flexible.  Providing quality, affordable, accessible, integrated housing and support is a primary mission of The Arc Arkansas”

Students interact with adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities as they participate in classes, art, theater, and games! Students also have an active role in preparing for the Arc’s annual fundraiser, Art for the Arc’s Sake, through facilitation of consumer’s participation and development in artwork…

“…the people there opened my eyes to the wide range of abilities and gifts among adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities. They are amazing…their warmth, their welcoming, genuine nature, and their propensity for having fun helped me learn to approach weekly activities with enthusiasm rather than anxiety.”

Aspire Christian Academy

“Aspire Christian Academy (ACA) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit Christian school that provides a Therapeutically Enhanced Education® using holistic educational and therapeutic methods to ensure students are successful in their home, school and community.”

Students are involved with promoting their annual 5k walk/run. They gain hands on experience with social interaction, play, and leading group activities. The students also lead art activities and assist with the art, drama, and movie portion of the week.

Boys and Girls Club

“In every community, boys and girls are left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets. An increasing number of children are at home with no adult care or supervision. Young people need to know that someone cares about them.

Boys & Girls Clubs offer that and more. Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.”

Students help with the transition from school to the club. They help tutor in the homework room, play with the children in the gym, and  implement a “Boot Camp Program”. Students gain experience in taking initiative, interacting with children, and implementing a program.

Brookedale Chenal Heights

“Brookdale Chenal Heights is a senior living community that offers personalized Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care. Considered one of the premier senior living communities in Central Arkansas, we are dedicated to enhancing health, wellness and lifestyle.”

Students lead activities, interact, and play games with the guests from Chenal Heights who have forms of dementia and other assisted living needs.

Community Connections

“Community Connections is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities and their families.  Many children with special needs live in a cycle of school and therapy with little opportunity for extra-curricular activity.  At the same time, families of children who are diagnosed with disabilities often lack education and a support network.  Community Connections was established in 2005 when Todd and Amy Denton (owners of Pediatrics Plus Therapy Services) and some of their staff saw that many children with disabilities did not have the opportunity to play sports and participate in the arts like their siblings and peers.  From this need, Community Connections was created to provide extra-curricular activities for children with disabilities and support for their families.”

Students assist in programs created for children with special needs such as soccer, football, martial arts, theater, music, art, and other areas. Students also help organize the annual fundraiser event, A Royal Night Out, by gathering auction items and promoting to the public. Community Connections also partners with ACTS Jr., where children of all abilities are able to express themselves through performing arts. Students facilitate engagement of children as they develop and implement creative ideas which combine to be a fantastic production!

“This taught me how much kids engaging with one another of all abilities helps them. Atypical kids interacting with typical kids is encouraging to them and makes them feel accepted.”

Conway Cradle Care

“To help teens (male and female) who have a child complete their high school education by providing mentoring for the teens and a safe, quality state-certified, low-cost day care for the infants and toddlers. While the parent is in school, Conway Cradle Care works to ensure each infant and toddler is given the best of care by providing an environment filled with age appropriate books, toys, educational materials, and childcare specialists.”

Students provide mentorship for the high school students who have children and talk about normal milestones of their child as well as safety tips. The occupational therapy students also interact, care for, and implement crafts and activities for the children.

Conway Senior Wellness & Activity Center

“The Faulkner County Council on Aging, Inc. strives to identify and meet the social, nutrition and transportation needs of Senior Adults. Our goal is to help them remain active, independent and to enhance their quality of life. The center focuses on the 7 Dimensions of Wellness: Physical, Social, Emotional, Spiritual, Environmental, Occupational, and Intellectual.”

Students interact with seniors while addressing the social, emotional, physical, spiritual, environmental, occupational, and intellectual aspects by playing “bean bag baseball”, “feel- good bingo”, and other planned activities. They also participate in scheduled events and visit with the seniors during lunch. The energy the occupational therapy students provide is a greatly appreciated addition to the agency.

“They were the definition of “living life to the fullest.” They taught me that growing old doesn’t hold you back, it brings the wisdom to appreciate and enjoy what life brings you and to keep doing the things you love to do!”

Equestrian Zone

“Our Mission is to enrich the lives of persons with special needs/disabilities and foster functional independence with increased self-confidence and improved skills of daily living through the use of safe and enjoyable therapeutic, equine-assisted activities.We serve children and adults with a wide diversity of physical, cognitive, mental and emotional disabilities.”

Students sidewalk with children and adults on horses and assist with positioning, balance, and interacting through games. The students work directly with therapy clients and observe the sessions; they are a great source of motivation, safety, and positive role modeling for the clients!

Faulkner County Day School- Workforce

“Work Force, the Adult component of the Faulkner County Day School. The program provides an environment where persons with developmental disabilities can meet, interact, study, and work with others sharing similar goals and aspirations.Work Force contracts with local businesses & industries for work which the companies need to have completed, and which consumers can do.  The consumers are paid for the work they do.”

Students create decorations for the Halloween dance and socialize with the clients throughout their day schedule. At the dance, the clients from Workforce were some of our honored guests!

Faulkner County Juvenile Drug Court

“The mission of these interventions is to provide court-involved youth increased caring intervention to prevent future court involvement and to encourage positive appropriate behaviors that will further help those young people contribute to society on into adulthood.”

Occupational therapy students participating are given mentees who have been assigned to Drug Court. Students have the opportunity to bond and create friendships with the juveniles as they participate in multiple activities and crafts that are fun and enjoyable!

“I learned that being a mentor for an adolescent can not only make a difference in impacting their life and future but can also impact your own by having such a rewarding experience.”

Grow! Learning Centre

“Grow provides a comprehensive multidisciplinary program for children birth to six years of age. We offer onsite pediatric medical/nursing services, speech, occupational, and physical therapy in an educational environment. Children with diverse abilities are nurtured and supported by well qualified staff using the most current evidence based intervention to maximize each child’s abilities.”

Students assist children with all mental and physical abilities as they play and perform classroom tasks. The students helped implement use of Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and developed sensory activities for the center.


Community Partners

ABC Preschool

Students help teachers with transitioning the children to different rooms and assisted in crafts, bulletin board, and many more activities. The teachers really appreciate the extra help, and the children have a blast!Group shot 1a

Access Schools

“ACCESS® is located in Little Rock, Arkansas, and offers full-time education, therapy, training and activities for children and youths with learning disabilities. We serve families from Arkansas and surrounding states, including those families who have relocated to our state to enroll their children in our programs.”

“I learned the importance of letting the kids see all of my quirks so that they could be comfortable being themselves…they just taught me not to take life so seriously and find reasons to laugh and smile all day.”

Acting Creates Therapeutic Success (ACTS)

“Our mission is to provide opportunities for engagement in the performing arts for individuals of all abilities while also encouraging occupational therapy students to understand the empowerment of human capabilities through the arts.”

Acting Creates Therapeutic Success, Junior (ACTS Jr.)

ACTS Jr. (Acting Creates Therapeutic Success) is a unique, creative program designed to integrate children ages 7-17 with and without disabilities together through the use of performing arts. Led by occupational therapists, occupational therapy students, and youth volunteers from the community, this program is unique to Arkansas. ACTS Jr. has touched the lives of numerous children and families in Central Arkansas since 2005.

The system utilized in ACTS Jr. is progressive in nature, and focuses on the process rather than the product of creating a dramatic performance. It allows the performers to build on previously learned skills, while also gaining new ones. Sessions occur one time per week, and culminate in child-driven performances held in the fall and spring, highlighting their creativity and hard work.

Acting Creates Therapeutic Success in the Rock (ACTS)

“Our mission is to provide opportunities for engagement in the performing arts for individuals of all abilities while also encouraging occupational therapy students to understand the empowerment of human capabilities through the arts.”

Arkansas Down Syndrome Association

“The Arkansas Down Syndrome Association promotes and enhances the overall health and well-being of people with Down syndrome and their families through the initiatives of public awareness, lifelong resource development, community building & social networking, education & advocacy, and funding & support for Down syndrome interests regionally and statewide.”

Students volunteer at the annual “Gettin’ Down with Down Syndrome” dance as they help with running the photobooth, selfie station, bowling, water tattoos, craft table, and much more! The students dance and socialize with all of the attendees to make sure they have a wonderful time.

Arkansas Tech University OTA

“The COTA’s purpose is to improve a client’s quality of life and enhance his/her ability to perform daily activities. COTAs provide clients with adaptive skills that enable them to reenter the workforce, instruct clients in compensating for a loss of motor skill function, and plan activities that increase the independence of the physically and/or developmentally disabled.”

Occupational therapy students and occupational therapy assistant students from Arkansas Tech University explore different assistive technology for many different populations.

ArkSTART

The Mission of Arkansas START is to enhance care and service provision by facilitating systemic collaboration, resource linkages, and information sharing, using evidence-based practices to effectively support individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs, thereby improving service outcomes and quality of life.

Baptist Health OTA

“Working under the supervision of an occupational therapist, the occupational therapy assistant uses purposeful activity to aid clients with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities in functioning as independently as possible in the areas of self care, work, and leisure. Occupational therapy assistants work in a variety of settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, school systems, long term care facilities, pediatric clinics, and mental health facilities.”

Occupational therapy students and occupational therapy assistant students from Baptist Health collaborate with mentees from the Faulkner County Juvenile Drug Court. Both give a different perspective for the best of the teenager.

Birch Tree

“We place the individual at the center of the treatment and recovery process, forming an equal partnership that will enable men and women with serious and persistent mental illnesses to:

  • Experience a sense of dignity.
  • Be aware of their strengths.
  • Develop self-awareness and insight.
  • Express and pursue their dreams.
  • Enjoy the freedom of making choices.
  • Be free to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Know that they are worthy members of the human community.”

Students lead a small group of members in an art activity for a class assignment, as well as visiting and leading activities throughout the following semester. Students create a fun atmosphere that the staff and members really appreciate!

“It definitely taught me that an illness does not define a person and that the best way to get to know a person is simply through just honest conversation.”

Conway High School

Students visit and spoke with high school students around Backpack Awareness Day. They shared about backpack fitting, weight distribution, and safety regarding heavy loads to shine awareness of the harmful effects from improper use of backpacks.

Conway Human Development Center

The Conway Human Development Center (CHDC) is a state facility that serves people with developmental disabilities in age from 7 to 74, with 40 school-age children receiving special education services. The Center is a training facility that provides comprehensive specialized services including, medical, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, orthotics and special education.  The residents are also provided training in domestic and personal skill development, habilitation, workshop opportunities, employment, and job opportunities both on campus and in the community.

Students participate in a variety of learning experiences at the Center. They lead a small group of residents in an art activity and assess a resident’s assistive technology for a class assignment. The students also listen to a few residents about assisted technology and braces that are most helpful to them. Lastly, the Volunteer Council at the Center will be funding the OT student community projects, Through Their Lens and Come Grow with Us, so their residents can participate in a photography exhibit and gardening project.

Conway Stroke Support Group

“While Conway Regional remains focused on providing primary healthcare services to the injured and sick, many patients need additional support after treatment. That’s where a number of support groups and services come in.”

Students partner with hospital staff to learn about cerebrovascular accidents and plan a sequence of support for groups. Students assist on finding ways for survivors to carry on with their occupational tasks by teaching strategies and modifying activities. The students learn a lot of interesting knowledge and appreciate the opportunity!

Faulkner County Museum

“Our Mission is to educate the public regarding the natural and cultural prehistory and history of the geographic region which today is known as Faulkner County.”

Students help the museum prepare for their Open House by learning and teaching historical crafts to visitors.

Increasing Capabilities Access Network (ICAN)

“ICAN AT4ALL is Arkansas’ statewide assistive technology program designed to make technology available and accessible for everyone who needs it.  Assistive technology (AT) is any kind of device or tool that helps people learn, work, communicate and live more independently.  AT can be very simple and inexpensive, like a modified knife and fork, or it can be very sophisticated and costly, like a computerized speech device.”

Students have had the opportunity to visit and sample numerous assistive technology equipment for many different populations. ICAN focuses on providing multiple options of funding in Arkansas and provides assistive technology for almost every aspect of life.

Independent Living Services

“ILS educates, advocates, and provides supportive services to empower families and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. ILS strives to advance the independence, productivity, and confidence of people into the community.”

Students enjoy interacting with some adults with intellectual/developmental delay in their classrooms and at lunch. They help the adults develop independence through the use of life skills and self- promotion of their own needs. Students also assist in running Acting Creates Therapeutic Success (ACTS) in Conway with these participants where the adults guide the direction of the play that they perform in the Fall.

“The people at ILS taught and helped me more than I helped them. They are the most loving and genuine people.”

Kidsource Therapy

“Our company is composed of a close knit group of highly motivated and professionally trained individuals who provide outpatient Developmental, Occupational, Physical and Speech therapies to children with delays and special needs.”

Students are actively involved in pediatric training by the use of adjunct faculty from the facility and learn from observation from the clinics in Benton and Little Rock.

LEND

The intent of the Arkansas Regional LEND graduate-level training program is to improve the lives of infants, children and adolescents who have, or are at risk for developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other neurodevelopmental and related disabilities (NDD) in AR and Mississippi. This program is a collaborative effort between the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

The program offers training to students at the undergraduate, graduate, post masters, and post-doctoral levels in a variety of learning experiences using an interprofessional education model. Each year OT graduate students are selected to participate as trainees in the year long program.

The LEND program is designed to: a) provide students with experiences which will enable them to become effective leaders and practitioners in their own disciplines; b) competently apply knowledge and skills to support persons with developmental disabilities and their families; c) effectively participate in an interdisciplinary process of designing, evaluating, and implementing programs, and 😉 effectively work in an interdisciplinary setting.

Salem Nursing Facility

“At Salem Place Nursing & Rehab, located in Conway, Arkansas, we are committed to providing the highest quality patient care, while maintaining a dignified atmosphere. Our qualified staff is here giving their loving support for the tasks of day-to-day living, allowing our guests to enjoy more pleasant and carefree activities.”

Students had the opportunity to meet some of the guests to assess their occupational needs for a class task. For fieldwork I, some students visited weekly to create activities and assist guests as they go through their daily schedule.

“The clients I worked with here really brought the importance of the just right challenge to life. I also saw how much more you got out of someone when you incorporate something they love.”

Soul Food Cafe
  1. To provide a place where people in our community or those passing through can receive, without hassle or precondition, free hot meals, food boxes and/or clothing without prejudice or regard to race, creed or religion.
  2. To present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a creative way to those who will hear, but is not forced on anyone in order to receive any help from the Mission.
  3. To provide an opportunity for churches and people of faith in Jesus Christ from our community to help in distributing, feeding, clothing or ministering to those coming to the Mission for assistance.
  4. To maintain the Mission grounds as denominationally neutral, so that all people of faith in Jesus Christ can work together for the Kingdom of God.

Students of Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) volunteer at the facility to sort food for the food pantry, assist with giving toiletry items, and many other tasks to give those who need it a helping hand.

World Services for the Blind

Blindness is no respecter of persons. It strikes without regard to race, religion, sex or nationality. In the United States, more than 25 million people age 18 and older are blind or have severe visual impairments that cause them to make adjustments in their careers and everyday living situations. The mission of World Services for the Blind (WSB) is to empower people who are blind or visually impaired in the United States and around the world to achieve sustainable independence.

Students have an outstanding experience as they go out in the community with individuals who are blind. Students also learn from a training instructor who was blind about braille, independent living, and technology labs.