Nov. 30, 2011
After much research, students in the Master of Occupational Therapy program at Shawnee State University discovered that southern Ohio has one of the lowest graduation rates from high school in the state and one of the biggest predictives is a "good self-image."
"We were doing studies on high school dropouts," said Debra Scurlock, director and associate professor of the MOT program. "We looked at studies across the nation, then we looked closer to home and found that we have one of the lowest graduation rates in Ohio."
The students also discovered that self-image problems begin when the children are very young. The class decided to look at elementary education in the area and what they might be able to do for at-risk children to help improve their self-image.
They found a tool to test children on self-concept. Four areas need to be addressed to raise children's self-image.
1. Cognitive competence;
2. Physical competence;
3. Peer acceptance;
4. Maternal acceptance.
"Those were the four things we looked at to increase self-image in children," Scurlock said.
The program started at an elementary school in the after-school program. They had games and other fun activities to help the children improve self-image.
In the first study, there was definite improvement in peer acceptance and physical achievement. In the second group, school was closed because of snow and other reasons, so they couldn't show a statistical significance but they did see improvement in the children.
Students discovered another problem area in southern Ohio and the MOT class was faced with several challenges. Students in Barbara Warnock's pediatric class completed clinical rotations working with the children at Stepping Stone House, a rehabilitation center for women who also have their children with them. After completing the clinicals, student's decided to write a grant to create a non-traditional fieldwork in Scurlock's grant writing class.
"There was no program for the children, just a daycare staff to oversee them," said Warnock, clinical coordinator and senior instructor. "The MOT students completed a needs assessment and worked on getting a grant to provide a program."
With several donations to help, the students went to work on providing support and programs for the children. The program was so successful in helping the children, Stepping Stones now has an occupational therapist on staff to work with them daily.
The research continues for the MOT students.