SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – American International College’s (AIC) Division of Occupational Therapy Services is set to make a significant impact on the mental well-bring of Springfield’s youth, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Hope for Youth and Families Foundation.

This generous grant, established by Bob Bolduc, former CEO of Pride Stores, will play a pivotal role in supporting the collaborative initiative “Every Moment Counts,” aimed at enhancing mental health among local children.

The program will be a joint effort between AIC’s Division of Occupational Therapy, the Martin Luther King Junior Family Services of Springfield (MLKFS), and the MLK Charter School of Excellence. The overarching goal of the initiative is to empower young participants by offering engaging activities designed to promote mental health, boosts self-esteem, and nurture resilience.

Professor and Post-Professional OTD Faculty Lead, Allison Sullivan, OT, DOT, OTR, spearheaded the proposal that led to this partnership. Notably, Dr. Sullivan serves on the board of directors at MLKFS. This collaboration not only benefits the community but also provides invaluable fieldwork opportunities for students enrolled in AIC’s Occupational Therapy Program. The program’s curriculum involves comprehensive training for AIC OT students and staff members from MLKFS and the MLK Charter School of Excellence on the principles of the “Every Moment Counts” program. The first training session is scheduled for late August.

Bob Bolduc expressed his enthusiasm for the project, saying, “We are very happy to support this joint program between AIC and MLK center because they are both solid organizations who are working together to assist youth and families in our fine city.”

Dr. Sullivan is grateful to Bolduc for his generous contribution, which has brought this iniative to life. “As an MLK board member, it has been my great desire to leverage my education and expertise to further the center’s mission to achieve Dr. King’s Dream,” said Sullivan. “Moreover, as an educator, I find tremendous satisfaction in offering our students an opportunity to apply their mental health skills and knowledge in implementing cutting-edge social-emotional learning activities with local youth. This collaboration with community organizations underscores the distinct value of occupational therapy. As a parent of two children who attended Springfield Public Schools, this endeavor holds personal significance.”

With optimism for the project’s goals, Sullivan emphasizes fostering positive mental health among participating children and creating fresh avenues for community staff and college students. Through innovative programs like this, the initiative aims to break down barriers disproportionately affecting the well-being of young members of the Springfield community.

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