Developing relationship and partnerships throughout the community is the purpose of the Community Integration (CI) program. This includes working closely with area college students who are considering careers working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Over the past 10 years, the CI program has developed partnerships with a number of area colleges and universities, including Maryville University and Meramec Community College. While we have worked with students majoring in several areas, our most significant partnerships have been with students majoring in Occupational Therapy or Occupational Therapy Assistance. Occupational Therapy focuses heavily on developing and maintaining daily living and work skills, which makes it a natural fit with the goals of CI. Students from both schools have spent anywhere from a week, to an entire semester at one of our sites, working in depth with the staff and program participants.
A Growing Partnership
In recent years, the two schools have developed a direct partnership with one another, and the Arc, to create more holistic learning experiences for the students. In 2014, the CI program began hosting what has now become an annual collaborative event between the two schools. The event allows students and faculty from both schools an opportunity to discuss best practices and to collaborate in the delivery of services. Students work directly with participants by leading them in a variety of interactive fine and gross motor activities. The most recent event was held on September 22, and included participants from the Arc’s Aging with Empowerment program. This event is a great introduction to our participants and program.
Six students, three from Maryville and three from Meramec, are currently in the midst of their field work experiences with the Arc. As in years past, the partnerships continue to be mutually beneficial. While students report developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of working with adults with I/DD, the program participants and staff have benefited from the unique perspectives that the students bring. Kayce Bagwell, Coordinator of the West County CI location, is currently hosting Giana, a student from Maryville University. Kayce states that Giana “has been incredibly interactive and engaging, and though this is her first experience working around people with development disabilities, she appears to be a natural!” While not all students will end up in jobs where they work primarily with those with I/DD, they will no doubt encounter many people with disabilities throughout their careers. Their experiences with the Arc can help prepare them to be effective and compassionate advocates for those with disabilities, both in their work and in all aspects of their lives.
Internships and Practicums With the Arc
The Arc is very grateful for all of the practicum students and interns who join us each semester. Learn More About Practicum and Internship opportunities at the St. Louis Arc!