The first-year and second-year OT students - both of the cohort groups on campus right now - in the program where I teach viewed a screening of a documentary film today called "Shooting Beauty." This film was produced by ReelAbilities, an organization based in NY started in 2007 to promote award-winning films by and about people with disabilities. The students came together in an auditorium to watch the 62-minute long film and then to dialogue about the impact the film had on their perspective as future occupational therapy practitioners. After the film was screened, students broke up into small groups that included members of each of the two classes to chat. Following that, a whole-group debriefing was conducted with input from the instructors and students.
Part of the discussion centered on the importance of therapeutic use of self in interactions with clients and others. One of the big take-aways the students identified was the impact of having a feeling of meaning and purpose in one's life and of feeling valued and understood.
My diagnosis is not who I am," said Tony, one of the individuals featured in the film.
One student point out that several of the struggles of the individuals shown in the film are things that some of us may also be experiencing or might have experienced in the past, such as the heartbreak at the end of a relationship. The general consensus of the group who viewed the documentary was that watching the film helped us to better relate to others who may have different lives and/or challenges than we do. Overall, we agreed that we felt inspired by watching the film.
The biggest thing is to start the conversation. Everybody has the right to be heard," stated Courtney, the photographer in the film.
Because the project shown in the film was partially funded by a grant, the class session was wrapped up with a discussion of the intricacies of grant writing which included some "insider tips" from faculty member Courtney Sasse.
As a follow-up, I want to share a link to a list of resources including grant funding for individuals with disabilities: joyfuljourneymom.com/ultimate-list-of-grants-and-resources-for-families-with-special-needs/
Stephanie Lancaster, MS, OTR/L, ATP, CAPS is an occupational therapist with 25+ years of clinical experience. As an assistant professor, Stephanie trumpets the value of teaching and practicing in the field of OT in an "out loud" manner.