Inclusion and the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics: A Conversation with Kristie Koenig and Janet Njelesani

Photo of Janet Njelesani and Kristie Koenig. Photo courtesy of Amy Kang.

Janet Njelesani (left) and Kristie Koenig (right). Photo courtesy of Amy Kang.

Kristie Koenig, chair of NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, and Janet Njelesani, an assistant professor in the department, recently spoke with The Gazelle about inclusion in the context of the Special Olympics World Games currently taking place in Abu Dhabi.

“Hopefully, through the Special Olympics and other national efforts that support inclusion, people living in the United Arab Emirates will get more chances to interact and build relationships with People of Determination,” Koenig said.

The two professors recently taught a J-Term course at NYU Abu Dhabi exploring the topic of inclusion both inside and outside the UAE.

“Our class was actually composed of 17 people from 17 different countries, and so each student was able to bring a unique perspective about their countries’ policies related to inclusion and people with disabilities,” Njelesani added.

Read the full Q&A with Koenig and Njelesani here.

Congratulations to 2019’s Frieda J. Behlen Scholarship Winners

Photo of award recipients sitting on steps in Washington Square Park.

Jillian Yoo (left) and Michelle Conley (right) are this year’s recipients of the Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarship.

The NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce that Jillian Yoo and Michelle Conley are this year’s recipients of the Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarship. The award recognizes high-achieving students with a demonstrated commitment to contributing to the NYU OT community.

Congratulations to Jillian and Michelle!

Jillian Yoo is passionate about exploring the impact of spiritual engagement on health outcomes. After witnessing the resilience of communities that had previously faced significant trauma while attending the Occupational Therapy Department’s “Global Context” course in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jillian hopes to illuminate how spiritual practices can affect individuals’ routines, self-concepts, and overall well-being. She also participated in Steinhardt’s ASD Nest Program, working alongside educators from the United Arab Emirates and NYU faculty to explore the implications of inclusion for teachers and therapists. Jillian will graduate in 2021 and looks forward to helping individuals heal, recover, and regain their independence by providing compassionate occupational therapy services.

Michelle Conley came to NYU Steinhardt’s MS in Occupational Therapy program with a goal of using her past experience working as a communications professional to promote occupational therapy through advocacy and interdisciplinary collaboration. After attending a workshop on constructing homemade toys for children with disabilities, Michelle developed an interest in creating appealing accessible technologies. She now aspires to be a part of a research team that creates functional yet fashionable clothing and assistive devices for children and adults with disabilities. Michelle will graduate in 2020 and hopes to join an outpatient clinic where she can work with a multidisciplinary team on a range of complex cases.

The Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarship is an endowed fund created principally by gifts from alumni of NYU’s occupational therapy programs. Income generated by the endowment is awarded annually to second-year Professional Program students who demonstrate superior academic achievement as well as financial need.

The fund was named to honor the memory of Frieda J. Behlen, founder and longtime chair of NYU’s Department of Occupational Therapy. Ms. Behlen was known for her generosity, often opening her own pocketbook to enable deserving students to complete their studies.

The award takes the form of a tuition aid applied toward summer courses. With growth in the fund’s balance from new gifts, the amount distributed continues to increase annually.

Visit this site to contribute to the scholarship and other Department of Occupational Therapy funds.

The Human Anatomy Lecture and Lab Experience

In the distance: graduate occupational therapy students collaborating on a dissection assignment during Human Anatomy lab.

Human Anatomy, a lecture and lab course, is a hands-on learning experience that teaches graduate occupational therapy students about the skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems through interactions with human cadavers.

Taught by Offiong Aqua, MD, who holds a joint appointment as a clinical associate professor in NYU Steinhardt’s departments of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Human Anatomy is a “rite of passage” for occupational therapy students.

Why is this a critical course for future OTs?

“You obviously cannot study health care without understanding the structures and working of the human body. It would be like a mechanic having no clue about cars and working on them anyway,” Aqua says.

Read the full article here.

Photo courtesy of Debra Weinstein.