Impact on the Children and their Families
Because the camps present an opportunity both for research and for North Central students to earn clinical experience toward the completion of their degrees, the camps are offered for free. “We’re able to serve kids [whose families] maybe don’t have the funds to go to outpatient [occupational therapy],” commented Kelly. The camps’ outreach even extends into rural areas, with the virtual camps delivering access to handwriting development help for families who may not be able to receive occupational therapy locally.
Chippy’s Handwriting Helpers also supplies curriculum materials. For the virtual and in-person camps, children receive a kit that includes a workbook and manipulatives to use with the instructional activities. After each camp session, Kelly and the MOT students give recommendations for practice at home using their kits.
The camps have proven to be extremely popular. Kelly reported that she always has a waitlist for the camps and now sends notice of new camp sessions to more than 100 families and occupational therapists. That long list signifies both the need for and the benefit of the service the camp provides to children and their families.
Impact on Camp Leaders
Chippy’s Handwriting Helpers started as a product of resilience. During the pandemic, with many children learning online, support services had to be reimagined. The College’s handwriting camps helped children keep learning and developing. At the same time, because of the limited options for in-person fieldwork, the camps were a chance for North Central students to obtain much-needed experience. “It seemed like the perfect opportunity,” Kelly said.
MOT students complete the requirements for their Level One pediatric fieldwork with the virtual and in-person handwriting camps. In Level One, many fieldwork placements are only focused on observing; toward the end of their degree, MOT students are expected to interact with clients while being observed by a supervisor before graduating and starting their careers. With Kelly’s supervision, Chippy’s Handwriting Helpers allows the MOT students to have hands-on intervention experiences earlier in their careers.