Gannon Occupational Therapy Students Throw a “Spring Extravaganza” for Service
Posted: April 10, 2014
For many young people, prom night is a much-anticipated peak
experience. Bringing that experience to people with intellectual
and developmental disabilities is the inspiration behind "Spring
Extravaganza," a community outreach project of the Gannon
University chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon (PTE), a national honor
society for occupational therapy students and alumni.
"Spring Extravaganza" is a dance for persons age 13-22, this
year to be held on April 12. The dance will feature a disk jockey
and activity stations for crafts, games, karaoke, snacks, dancing
The concept was pioneered last year by a group of five Gannon
occupational therapy students to fulfill the PTE imperative of
student service to community. The students were inspired by Spread
the Word to End the Word, an ongoing campaign by Special Olympics
and Best Buddies to inspire respect and acceptance through raising
the consciousness of society about how hurtful words and disrespect
can be toward people with intellectual disabilities. The campaign,
aims to engage schools, organizations and communities to rally and
to promote the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual
and developmental disabilities.
"'Spring Extravaganza' is not a dress up prom or costume party,"
said Bernadette Hattjar, Dr. OT, OTR/L, assistant professor in
Gannon's occupational therapy programs and the PTE chapter's
faculty advisor. "It's something special for a group of individuals
who would otherwise not have the opportunity to go to something
this big that was just for them."
Hattjar also cited the benefit for the student's in the
demanding occupational therapy program. "'Spring Extravaganza'
helps our students in assuming leadership roles and community
skill-building. Because it's not an academic event, it forces many
of them to step out of their comfort zone, and it's a good stress-