OTA Students Volunteer at Schizophrenia Walk
Students in Kent State University at East Liverpool’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program recently participated in the Schizophrenia Awareness Walk held in downtown East Liverpool. The event was part of Schizophrenia Awareness Week, an international observance designed to dispel myths and share important facts about schizophrenia publicly.
During the spring semester, OTA students completed a class on the psychosocial aspects of occupational therapy. Senior student Christine Harris noticed the advertisements for the Schizophrenia Awareness Walk and immediately felt the need to participate. “We were learning about mental illness and the stigma associated with it in our society. Many of us were experiencing first-hand the issues and difficulties of persons with schizophrenia during our level one fieldwork assignments,” she said.
Harris and fellow classmate Carson Tate felt it was an important event to put into action their future profession's code of ethics, specifically, social justice. “Occupational therapy practitioners should advocate for just and fair treatment of all community members and strive for occupational justice,” Harris said.
“The premise of which is that all people have the right to pursue what is important to them in their life. By participating in the schizophrenia awareness walk and mental health fair, we hoped to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and to educate the public.”
Tate and Harris, along with fellow students Helena Wiley, Janet Weston and Mark Highfield set up an informational table at the event to inform the public about occupational therapy’s role in mental health treatment and recovery. The students also volunteered as crossing guards for the walkers as they moved around town and crossed intersections.
“We interacted with the walkers and the event organizers and felt the sense of community that develops when individuals gather in support of a worthy cause,” Harris said. “I think we all left the event with a good feeling of having supported and advocated for a population in our community who are overlooked and often discriminated against.”
Bethany Zirillo, 330-382-7430, bgadd [at] kent.edu