Dear Queen's Supporter,
Mix a simple idea with passion and it can have real effects.
Megan Edgelow, MSc (RHBS) '08, a Lecturer in the Occupational Therapy program here in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, took a simple idea to her students this past fall. In their chosen profession, these students will often be required to act as advocates for those who cannot speak for themselves. In order to prepare them for this important component of their work, Ms. Edgelow asked the students to work on an Occupational Justice project, as a way to bring attention to people who have been marginalized.
The students provided the passion. A team of six students (Alexandra Carlsson, Julia Leo, Emily Molzan, Lee Rosen, Natalia Stadnik and Kadia Wong) came upon a story in the Toronto Star highlighting the challenges of a young man with autism and developmental delay. Zachariah Keiser was in danger of falling between the cracks. Because Zach was 21 years old, he was no longer eligible for a program that provided financial support for his care. Zach found himself on a list with 4,000 other adults, waiting for access to a government program intended to provide support for adults with disabilities.
The article mentioned that as Zach’s mother, Gloria Noseworthy, continued to struggle financially to provide his care, he was becoming increasingly isolated and his health was deteriorating.
The six Queen’s Rehabilitation Therapy students got to work on Zach’s case, with Gloria’s support and input. They started a letter-writing campaign to the Honourable John Molloy, Minister of Community and Social Services, on behalf of Zach and his mother. To further publicize Zach’s plight, and the struggles of other young adults like him, they wrote a piece detailing his situation that appeared in Kingston’s Whig Standard in December 2012. The same piece was also posted on the Autism Canada website.
These students have successfully raised awareness of the challenges faced by young adults with autism, and their work has had an effect. Zach’s mother has now managed to secure a meeting with the Ministry of Community and Social Services. She is grateful for the advocacy provided by our students. “It’s an honour that they would take this on,” she says. “It helps to know that other people care.”
I’m very proud of these students, who continue to follow Zach’s progress long after completing their Occupation Therapy course.
We can’t teach that kind of passion, but we can encourage it and nurture it. And that is what we do – provide opportunities that enable our students to develop their passion for helping others. But we can’t do it without your help. Please join me today in supporting the Rehabilitation Therapy Student Experience Fund , where every gift creates opportunity.
Marcia Finlayson, Ph.D.
Director, School of Rehabilitation Therapy