In October, a cadre of Mercy alumni and graduate students from the Speech Language Pathology (SLP), Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) programs joined forces to present a free educational workshop for members of a community in need.
The event, called Empowering Through Remote Learning, was spearheaded by SLP Empowered, a group of SLP practitioners aiming to offer free services and resources to families struggling with online learning. Co-founders Kiera Harris, M.S. ’18, Danielle Roma ’18 and Mayte Garcia ’19 identified Ossining, N.Y., as a community that could benefit from their services, and they invited Mercy graduates from other disciplines to participate.
Harris said the idea came from a multidisciplinary team exercise she witnessed while a graduate student at Mercy. “It struck me how similar our professions are while providing distinctly different services,” she said. “I wanted to apply this approach toward bilingual parents who are trying to help their children navigate online learning.” She approached Coralie Boisrond, DPT ’19, and subsequently recruited several more Mercy alumni and current OT graduate students to round out the team of practitioners.
Members of each discipline developed tips and strategies to share with participants. Some 25 families of school children attended the event, partaking of the free language screenings provided by the SLP practitioners, as well as postural recommendations and exercise tips from the physical therapists, and the occupational therapists’ accommodations for optimum learning environments. Two advocacy organizations, Ossining Parents Acting Collectively for Children and Rising Above Boundaries, provided additional resources and services as part of the event.
Harris acknowledged the gap that separates many underserved communities from opportunities that can make learning more accessible. "Long term, we hope to develop a system of multidisciplinary teams who can access, educate and empower communities to bridge that gap," she said.
“The team and the event came together quickly, almost spontaneously, but it sparked a lot of ideas for ways we can work together,” said Boisrond. “We have an opportunity here, and with everything going on right now, we need to strap on our boots and get to work.”