Building community is a major facet of Kean's occupational therapy department. Both faculty and students work closely with our community partners to provide accessible services and health education. We actively integrate ourselves into our communities through faculty grants, student-led groups, and community-based research projects. Our students are introduced to some of our community partners beginning in their group development class the first semester and continue to do so during their research course sequence. During the second semester of academic coursework, graduate occupational therapy students engage in the planning and teaching of a 6 week community-based service learning experience. There they apply theoretical constructs and frames of reference in the design and implementation of direct occupational therapy service interventions with our community partners.
Below are some of our community partners:
Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (HACE)
Resiliency through Relationship and Recipes is a collaboration between Kean University's Department of OT and HACE. This project creates new and innovative pilot programming to increase health and quality of life for older adult residents of HACE by helping them reengage in social participation through intergenerational community building. This project targets multiple goals, social connectedness, increased health, and quality of life. This pilot program will bring older adults to Kean's OT clinic and campus for weekly training and events. The wellness programming will be held 1x per week x 25 weeks. While intergenerational social relationships and community are built, education on health literacy, joint protection, and healthy meal planning will be provided. Family recipes and stories will be shared, a community cookbook with stories will be created, and five community meal events will be held where program participants will serve as HACE residents.
In addition to this group, our graduate students have done the following in partnership with HACE:
- Run a culturally responsive diabetic footcare program that provides education and tools for the self-management of diabetes.
- Run groups in Spanish and English focused on social participation, technology literacy, and exercise through dance
- Completed level I and level II experiences in various HACE buildings
- Conducted qualitative research focused on Telehealth use during the COVID-19 pandemic for older adult residents
- Conducted a mixed methods study, focused on the effectiveness of a multilingual diabetic foot care program
Union Senior Center
Kean OT has an exciting collaboration with the Union Senior Center, in which students provide programming for older adults who live at home, and attend “The Monday Club” at the senior center weekly. Students combine the results of thorough research on the needs of this population with a survey given to group members in order to determine which topics to cover throughout the 7 weeks. In 2022, programs included exercise such as chair yoga and Tai Chi, education opportunities in the community, exploring new leisure activities, relaxation techniques, and a tour of Kean’s new OT Clinic.
JCC of Central Jersey
The Kean University Department of Occupational Therapy currently collaborates closely with JCC of Central Jersey. JCC of Central Jersey is a full-service inclusive community center, with a full-day early childhood education program daycare and preschool serving babies and children in the surrounding area. JCC also hosts an integrated summer camp, Camp Yachad, where children and adolescents can participate in daily recreational and social opportunities. Kean University Department of Occupational Therapy graduate students have supported children in JCC's various programs as Level I Fieldwork Students and in our Community Partnerships class, where they provide intentionally-designed individual and group activities to serve the children and teachers at JCC's Early Childhood Center.
Community-Based Inclusive Programming: Special Olympics New Jersey Young Athletes Program (SONJ, YAP) at Kean
Faculty and students from the Department of Occupational Therapy and the School of Health and Human Performance/Recreation Therapy at Kean University collaborate to provide health-promoting, pro-bono SONJ community-serving programs on Kean University's East Campus throughout the year. Families from the Union County area can register their children to participate in Young Athletes Programs on a semester-by-semester basis. In this program, children and parents participate in athletic activities, such as obstacle courses, relay races, therapeutic yoga and music-movement. This is a student-faculty run program, delivered to families free-of-charge as a community and interprofessionally collaborative project.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kean Occupational Therapy students created various videos to help the community engage in various occupational and leisure activities while in quarantine. Using the YouTube link below will bring you to various videos that our students have provided for you. Please click here in order to view the videos.