Occupational Therapy Capstone Projects at the Playhouse

Written by Allison Harvey – Rush University Occupational Capstone Student

Being able to complete my capstone experience at both GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago and Gateway to Learning was one of the best experiences that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. Not only was I able to implement my Universal Design program that I am so passionate about, but I also was able to meet and work with many of the staff, volunteers, and participants at both locations.

My main project at GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago and Gateway to Learning was to implement my Universal design program. This program’s purpose was to teach both staff and participants how they can redesign a space to make it more accessible to all people. Not only did they have the opportunity to grow in knowledge but also they were able to redesign a space at their organizations. I was able to find that those individuals came out of the program with a greater appreciation for the spaces they were able to work on and more ideas of how they can keep improving the spaces. See below to see some of our transformations at GiGi’s Playhouse!  

Throughout my capstone experience, I also had the pleasure to help lead night programs for the teens and young adults at GiGi’s Playhouse! From Wednesday night yoga led by Brenda and Sam to Thursday Teen Tastic and GiGi’s Kitchen, there was lots of fun and opportunities to advance in their skills! Brenda and Sam continued to lead yoga, advancing their skills to not only be able to do yoga, but also teach others how to perform moves. Within Teen Tastic, participants were able to interact with others and advance their skills for being a good friend and teammate, while playing games, making crafts, and of course, dancing to music! Finally, GiGi’s Kitchen was able to help participants learn how to make healthy swaps for their favorite foods, while creating yummy snacks such as smoothies, bagel pizzas, and walking tacos! 

I can’t believe that this chapter of my life as a capstone student is coming to a close, but I look forward to future opportunities to volunteer with this amazing organization in the future! I will definitely be back, making changes to keep improving the spaces at GiGi’s Playhouse, helping out with programs and cheering on the participants with their programs and events. 

You can see here we moved the mugs closer to the Keurig, moved the bowls down so they are easier to reach, and added labels to the cabinets!
You can see that we took some of the books and moved them so we could add math tutoring materials to the shelves! We also added labels to the shelves.

Written by Anna Parker – Rush University Occupational Capstone Student

It has been a great joy to complete my Doctoral Capstone Experience at GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago. Though my goal was to educate the participants, I feel as though I gained more knowledge from working with them than I could have possibly taught them.

The purpose of my project was to implement an 8-week health and wellness-based curriculum to educate individuals with Down syndrome on aspects of living a healthy lifestyle. My hope was that participants would gain understanding and implement changes to their current routines and habits to facilitate increased health and wellness. Topics of the program included nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, gratitude, boundaries, and more. We completed a one-hour large group session once a week, as well as 2:1 sessions with 2 participants and myself. Each session included an education component, as well as an activity to reinforce the concepts. Sessions included lots of dancing, eating yummy snacks, and crafting!

During the final large group session, participants shared what they enjoyed about the program, what they learned, and what their goals were going forward. One participant shared that she now enjoys going to the grocery store with her mom and finding healthy foods, while another shared that she found her voice to advocate for people with Down syndrome. It is evident that everyone took something positive away from the group!

While I am saddened to be wrapping up my program at GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago, I can’t wait to continue to volunteer here in the future and see how the participants continue to use the skills and aspects learned in the program to live healthy and full lives!

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