OTA Students Build Skills with Life Skills Students

Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy Assistant student Ashley Barr of DuBois plays against DuBois High School Life Skills student Raymond Montowski in an interactive video game. (Provided photo)

DUBOIS – Students in the Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program recently had opportunities to build upon their education with real-world lessons, while also reaching out to some special high school students.

OTA students hosted Life Skills students from DuBois Area High School for a workshop on campus, where they participated in crafting activities and interactive video game play.  The Life Skills students are students who possess intellectual or developmental challenges.  Educators for both the Life Skills students and Penn State DuBois OTA students say the exercises are mutually beneficial.

“This gives them exposure, not just to a college campus, but experience in how to navigate through the community, how to interact with people, and how to behave in groups and in the community,” said Life Skills teacher Dan Minns.

“It really gives us good experience working with children of different developmental abilities,” said Rachel Wells, OTA student and president of the campus OTA Club.  “We’ll work with a variety of patients with different challenges in our careers, and this helps us learn how to interact with them.”

The activities OTA students offered provided fun learning experiences for the Life Skills students, while accurately simulating real-world occupational therapy situations. Making crafts and playing interactive games like those on the Nintendo Wii are tactics often employed by therapists in the field.

“Play is a big part of the work that we’ll do, and a big part of OT,” Wells said.

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