What do Pancakes Have to do with Occupational Therapy? EVERYTHING!

Published: September 17, 2021

While other students stumbled into their classrooms and began rummaging through backpacks for paper and pencils, College of Western Idaho's (CWI) first cohort of Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students hit the buffet line.

To kick off the semester, OTA students began by stacking warm, delicious pancakes onto plates. As melting butter began cascading down the sides of delicious flapjacks, homemade syrup and fresh berries topped their masterpieces. It didn’t take long for the students to realize this breakfast wasn’t just a nice gesture to feed hungry college students, but a meaningful, hands-on learning activity in the making.

As they enjoyed their delicious breakfast, the students were asked to think about what skills were necessary to prepare to enjoy a tasty meal. OTA instructors led a discussion asking students to identify necessary skills including motor, process, and social interaction skills which allow a person to fully participate in this meaningful activity.

What happens when illness, injury, or disability compromise one of those skills? Is that person destined to live a life without fully engaging in those activities that give life purpose and lend to a healthy sense of identity?

This is where occupational therapy shines. Occupational therapy identifies barriers that prevent a person from fully engaging in what they want to do. Occupational therapy is client-centered, meaning therapeutic interventions look differently to each person. Interventions may adapt an approach and include modified utensils or adaptive cups, or they might focus on remediation and include activities to assist someone to regain requisite strength and endurance to sit upright at a table for a meal.

As this amazing group of 14 students begin their journey to become outstanding occupational therapy practitioners, they will develop the skills necessary to assist people to achieve meaningful goals in all areas of life.

This is just a glimpse at the phenomenal OTA program here at CWI. With passionate instructors operating on a flipped classroom model, each day is an adventure providing hands-on, problem-based learning and lively discussion.

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