ITHACA, NY—The Center for Life Skills is a rehabilitative program developed by Ithaca College to assist individuals who have experienced stroke. During the fall semester, students taking “Therapeutic Recreation Process I”—a course taught by associate professor of recreation and leisure services Janice Elich Monroe—used the center’s resources and funding from a Service Learning Grant sponsored by the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute to plan and implement a service learning project for participants in the center’s fall session. Gathering supplies for the Tompkins County SPCA, the project blurred the lines between town and gown, old and young, faculty and students, future therapists, healers and those in need of rehabilitation services. When the center holds its annual open house at Longview on Friday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon, the project will culminate with a presentation of pet food and supplies to a representative of the local SPCA.
Students from the Communication Disorders in the Aging Population course taught by Susan Durnford, clinical assistant professor from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, joined the group at midterm and worked on an additional project which focused on making fleece blankets for preschoolers in the Head Start program at Longview. The children from Head Start will receive their blankets on Wednesday, Dec. 12.
“The goal is to give our students and center participants a chance to work together on community-based service projects,” Monroe said. “We felt this would not only increase intergenerational communication between students and participants but also give clients activities that would enhance their functional skills after having experienced a stroke. Our emphasis is on doing with, notdoing for.”
Once representatives from the SPCA outlined what their organizations needed, the students and their clients began planning ways to collect the items and make the blankets. The activities included making advertising posters, phone calls and cutting fringe for the blankets—tasks that seem simple to some but which can be milestones for those recovering from a stroke.
“The students were assigned clients on a one-on-one basis,” Monroe said. “They used their classroom learning experiences to work out a practical treatment plan, based on the needs of their individual client. What makes our program unique is that we engage students from several disciplines, including occupational and physical therapy as well as therapeutic recreation and speech-language pathology and audiology. Learning to work on interdisciplinary teams will enable students to learn skills that they will utilize when they enter the work force work. It’s very important to expose them to an interdisciplinary model while they’re still in academic training.”
In addition to being recipients of the blankets, the children from the Head Start program also helped in gathering supplies for the SPCA and learned about pet care in the process.
“When you consider the age ranges of the people involved in this service learning project—from the preschoolers to the college students to the faculty to the clients—we are spanning four generations,” Monroe said. “This project is both interdisciplinary and intergenerational.”
In addition to the service project, Monroe’s students gathered data on intergenerational attitudes that will be evaluated by Ithaca College Gerontology Institute staff.
The Center for Life Skills is located on the second floor of Longview at 1 Bella Vista Drive in Ithaca. For information about enrolling as a participant in the Center for Life Skills Program, contact Catherine Gooch, program manager, at (607) 375-6312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the service learning project and to arrange an interview, contact Janice Elich Monroe at (607) 274-3172 or email@example.com