This spring, the Ross College Quad Cities campus in Bettendorf, Iowa hit the ground running by getting out there and making a difference in their community. Students in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Associate Degree program participated in the local Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Walk. In addition to being a part of the walk itself, the students also raised nearly $700 by selling t-shirts to donate to the cause.
The students were very motivated to make a difference in this new Ross campus. Part of this was due to an assignment that they were given on the very first day of class. It only took them a couple weeks to realize that their simple assignment had the power to change lives. In honor of Occupational Therapy Month, the Intervention in Mental Health class at Ross College – Quad Cities was assigned to choose something to do in the community to celebrate. All ten students brainstormed and collectively decided to participate in the 2017 Multiple Sclerosis Walk hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
In the few weeks leading up to the event, the students raised money by selling t-shirts to family and friends and establishing on online donation site. The class worked together to choose a t-shirt theme and agreed upon one student’s t-shirt design. The students selected the event as one particular student’s family has been significantly affected by multiple sclerosis. The students chose the t-shirt design after researching the disability. Knowing that multiple sclerosis affects the myelin, coating that surrounds the nerves, the students stated that this design was a clever play on words.
On the big day, most of the students in the class were able to participate in the walk. The students who participated stated that the “energy was off the chain.” One student remembered many of them complaining about one of the hills on the walk. Once the students reached the top of the hill, they saw the walkers that had already completed the walk. That’s when they noticed several who had walked using canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. Suddenly the students realized the reality of the cause.
Several of the students commented that they enjoyed working together as a class. They stated that they never realized that 10 students could make such difference in such short of a time. The Occupational Therapy Assistant program instructor, Kimberly Grimm, saw the students work together in way that no academic assignment could have inspired them to. These students realized through this simple act that life is more than just an assignment.