Occupational therapy students study homelessness from global perspective

Occupational therapy students arm-in-arm at LA Kitchen in front of a sign saying, "LA Kitchen."

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ive occupational therapy graduate students spent their spring break in Los Angeles working on a capstone project focusing on homelessness from a global perspective.

The students — plus 3 classmates who did not travel to California — are spending the semester studying poverty and homelessness. They have served meals each week at the Columbus House in New Haven — and examined the impact occupational therapy can make on the daily lives, routines and activities of daily living for this population.

“Their project centers around the Recovery House, a Columbus House property, to work on a healthy meal plan to maintain health and wellness for chronic disease management — in partnership with our Office of Community Service — with plans to build a healthy meal plan for a month with consent from a nutritionist,” said Tracy Van Oss, clinical professor and academic coordinator. “The students have attended various lectures and events and the trip to L.A. was another viewpoint of learning about this population.”

In Los Angeles, the students volunteered at LA Kitchen and worked with other volunteers to prepare donated fruits and vegetables for 1,000 homeless individuals each day. They also worked with the Teen Project, where they worked with young women between 18-25 who have aged out of foster care, have been incarcerated, have faced drug addiction or have been involved with prostitution or victims of sex trafficking.

“The graduate occupational therapy students, Simone Allenbach, Rachel Annino, Gracie Chin, Jenn Decker, and Amber Emmino, visited Los Angeles as a part of their capstone project. During the visit, Professor Tracy Van Oss and the students visited The Teen Project and LA Kitchen. The capstone topic focuses on homelessness from a global perspective, and the impact occupational therapy can make on the daily lives, routines, and activities of daily living for this population.”