For nearly a decade, this innovative program has helped kids reach their potential while providing CUW OT students with a valuable fieldwork opportunity.

By Maggie Aschenbrener, OTRL/M

As Pediatric Clinical Coordinator for the Occupational Therapy (OT) Department at Concordia University, I have the privilege of both teaching in the occupational therapy department and creating clinical opportunities for our students in the community, which includes our Write it Right Handwriting Camp.

During college, I spent two summers working as a camp counselor at Camp Gray in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and one summer as a camp counselor at Camp Adventure, on an American military base in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. I also spent the spring semester of my sophomore year of college living and studying in the Rocky Mountains as a student with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Never would I have imagined that these amazing experiences would have led me to teach graduate level OT students at Concordia University of Wisconsin!

I think this week was more than just working on handwriting. I think we each learned something new from each other and I will be forever grateful for that.

Olivia Seng, CUW Occupational Therapy student

The ‘write’ partnerships

Pediatric occupational therapy helps children fulfill their roles as sons, daughters, siblings, students, and peers, among other things. Often, pediatric occupational therapy focuses on the fine motor skills that help children fulfill these roles. One area that pediatric occupational therapists often focus on in the school setting is handwriting. For nine years, the Concordia Occupational Therapy Department has partnered with local elementary schools in southeastern Wisconsin for the Write it Right Handwriting Camp to provide local children the opportunity to improve upon their handwriting skills in a fun, safe, and supportive environment.

This summer, the Concordia Occupational Therapy Department partnered with Ozaukee Christian of West Bend, St. Paul’s of Grafton, and St. Josephs Academy of Milwaukee for a week of handwriting camp which was free to the public. In the handwriting camp, CUW students gained experience with a multisensory approach to handwriting while K4-3rd grade students were able to improve upon and continue to practice their handwriting. The handwriting camps serve as a level one fieldwork experience for our occupational therapy students, which provides CUW OT students with an introduction to the pediatric population.

Undivided attention

During Write it Right Camp, CUW students are paired 1:1 with a camper to teach them the basic mechanics of handwriting in a fun, play-based environment. This summer, themes included outer space, dinosaurs, campout, and superhero. Campers participated in gross motor, fine motor, and handwriting activities that supported these themes. Throughout the week, campers engage in obstacle courses, relay races, games, outdoor activities, crafts and a variety of other activities that support physical and neurological development that work to improve handwriting. CUW’s comfort dog Sage even plays an integral part in the week’s activities!

Not only do campers learn, they also have fun. Cam Ruetz, a nine-year-old camper, said his favorite part of camp was “hanging out with his OT student Jeff,” and playing games that incorporated handwriting and his favorite sport, basketball. Cam reported that by the end of the week, he was able to write the lowercase alphabet “perfectly.” While Cam enjoyed the basketball, his mom, Katie Ruetz, was excited to see his handwriting and his overall confidence improve throughout the week! Occupational therapy student Olivia Seng said, “I think this week was more than just working on handwriting. I think we each learned something new from each other and I will be forever grateful for that.”

Want in?

Wherever you’re at in your journey into occupational therapy, Concordia University has options for you at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. As a Christ-centered university, our program will help you advance in your calling, by learning from experienced therapists in a hands-on environment and developing a foundation in ethical leadership.

—Maggie Aschenbrener, OTRL/M, is the pediatric clinical coordinator for the Occupational Therapy Department at Concordia University Wisconsin.