A new internship coordinated by the Psychology department with the Charles River Center (CRC) in Needham launched in Fall 2016, with seven Psychology student interns participating in CRC's Futures Program. CRC is a leader in supporting people with developmental disabilities. The Futures Program provides CRC clients opportunities for individual growth through community inclusion and educational programs.
Every Friday, adult clients from CRC boarded a van en route to the Curry campus in Milton. Upon arrival, each individual was paired with a Curry student mentor who provided cognitive enrichment and social skills training. Each of the seven students in the internship took turns developing a lesson plan that focused on either music therapy, money management, sensory projects that explored touch and smell, or memory exercises. After the classroom lesson concluded, the students took their mentees to the Student Center where they had lunch together.
In December 2016, students in the internship hosted a special graduation ceremony for the CRC clients to mark the many milestones the program participants accomplished in just 10 short weeks. It was a reflective occasion for students after growing such a strong bond.
"It was a great learning experience where we were able to build meaningful connections with all of the clients," said Lindsey Baglio, Class of 2017.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to watch these individuals grow and learn. Each of the clients embraced the experience and enjoyed being part of the Curry community," said Kathleen Douglas, Class of 2017.
Dr. Elizabeth Carey is the internship supervisor and CRC liaison. "You can tell by looking at the clients' faces what this program meant to them. For our students, it was a real life lesson in embracing diversity, and the power of kindness."
The internship was such a success that it will be offered to students again during the Spring 2017 semester. CRC says the partnership with Curry has been a valuable experience.
"Individuals in the Futures Program had the opportunity to be on a college campus and be included in student life, to gain a potential mentor and friend in a student, and to work on life skills and their goals," said Kristy Hargreaves, Director of Employment and Day Services. "We appreciate the college for believing in the agency's mission and embracing the individuals through such a thoughtful and meaningful program."
For Lindsey and Kathleen, the internship, which they signed up for because it was a course requirement, has been eye opening and monumental in helping shape their future career paths. Both plan to participate in the internship again next semester and will take on increased responsibility helping Dr. Carey with program facilitation.
Lindsey credits the internship for helping her land a job as a Behavior Therapist at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Woburn. Kathleen is applying for jobs at adult psychiatric facilities in hopes of working as a mental health associate. Both are confident a career in adult care will prove to be rewarding.