What does OT have to do with it?

Eight occupational therapy (OT) students from St. Ambrose University had the opportunity to work with participants of GiGi’s Kitchen for 6 weeks. It was hosted at St. Ambrose in the Health Sciences building on Tuesdays from 5:30-7:00 pm. Over the course of the six weeks, the OT students worked with the GiGi’s participants on meal prep skills such as chopping vegetables, knife safety, cooking, and clean up tasks. They practiced their coaching skills when addressing sequencing of complex tasks and multi-step directions. Additionally, the GiGi’s participants tried various adaptive knives and other adaptive equipment that OTs frequently recommend to clients.

Most of the OT students had limited experience with Down syndrome and learned about how low muscle tone can impact the ability to hold a knife and safely chop vegetables. They also learned how to work through other challenges such as stubbornness or not wanting to participate in a non-preferred activity. On the flip side, the OT students and GiGi’s participants had some good conversations about food, friends, and favorite social activities. It was a very fun and rewarding experience for the St. Ambrose OT students. We look forward to more opportunities with GiGi’s in the future!

3 Student Insights

I loved being able to watch all the participants grow through the weeks with us. The environment was full of love, and you can see how the structure was like a family. This makes me excited moving forward as a future occupational therapist.

Being a part of GiGi’s has been super rewarding and a great learning experience. To be able to work one on one with a client and see the progress that they have made throughout the GiGi’s Kitchen program was an amazing experience as a student. It gave me more confidence in myself as a future occupational therapist!

My experience at GiGi’s Kitchen program was an eye-opening and outstanding experience. Working with this population on kitchen safety was something that I was uncomfortable with at first, but after the first day I knew that I had made the right choice in participating in this program. The high energy and personal connections made with each individual is something that will last with me forever. Every week brought new challenges that we were able to collaboratively work together to ultimately overcome. I am so pleased to have had this opportunity as it has shaped me into being a more well-rounded and competent OT student.

Submitted by Julie Jones, OTD, OTR/L, BCP

Assistant Professor- Occupational Therapy Department

St. Ambrose University – Center for Health Science

All of us here at GiGi’s can’t begin to thank the Occupational Therapy Department at St Ambrose for all they have done for us and our participants. Thank YOU!

Thank you to the OT Students

Breena B

Emma C

Jacob H

Tiana K

Johnny Mc

Aiko M

Sage S

Alison Y

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