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Penn State DuBois Students are “Helping Hands”

4/8/2008 —

DuBois – Occupational Therapy Assistant students at Penn State DuBois are polishing their skills in a real-world setting, while helping students at an area elementary school.  The After School Handwriting Enrichment Program at Wasson Elementary school engages Penn State DuBois OTA students with real elementary students who need some extra help with their fine motor skills. 

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Senior Instructor of Occupational Therapy, Marge Pendzick. “The elementary students get help and our students get experience and training. There are not a lot of opportunities where our students can work with children so closely.”

During a recent Wednesday session, the group of kindergarten through third grade students started off by making a woven Easter Basket.  Penn State DuBois OTA students helped the children through each step of the intricate process.  Pendzick said such exercises will increase the children’s finger dexterity and fine motor skills.  Those improvements are ultimately reflected in the students’ handwriting.  Later in the session,  the PSU OTA students assisted the elementary students in creative ways to practice correct letter formation and to increase upper extremity strengthen.

“We’ve noticed definite improvements with handwriting and a change in attitude towards printing,” said Wasson Elementary Teacher, Jen Fye. 

Penn State DuBois OTA students, Lisa Pompeii and Laruen Foster said the knowledge they have gained through this program is invaluable.  “We get hands on training, learning the fine motor skills and gross motor skills of children and how they develop,” said Pompeii.  Foster ads, “We can see developmental stages and can learn to correct any patterns that are incorrect, like how they hold their pen.”

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