In celebrating MLK Day yesterday, the OT department at my school mandated that every student participate in a service project that would benefit the community. Me and a group of my friends volunteered at a after school program that provides a safe place for students K-12 to go to daily to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. It is truly a great organization that gives students meaningful occupations to engage in and also teaches life skills to help them further succeed. Yesterday, we cleaned out an entire room and painted it so that it could be turned into an after school classroom to benefit the neighborhood children. It was a great feeling to have been able to contribute to a great cause. It is days like yesterday that I am reminded just how important it is to give back.
I've always been service oriented from being involved in student council and Girl Scouts my whole life and continued to volunteer for a therapeutic riding program in college, and I think it is incredibly important to give back. I know that many of us are overwhelmed by student loans, however, we need to recognize that we are all incredibly lucky to be pursuing or have a degree that allows us to have a career in occupational therapy. With that, I think we as AOTA should focus a bit more on service and charity, which if elected Chairperson I will definitely push for. There are a number of ways to do this, either by selecting an annual charity or service project that both student and professionals can contribute to or finding smaller, more regionally based projects. Likewise, it is also a chance for some publicity for AOTA and our profession, making it a win-win situation.