Healthy Occupations for Positive Emotions (HOPE)

Susan Bazyk

Susan Bazyk

Focus Area: 
Health
Location: 
Cleveland's East Side
Community Partner: 
The Friendly Inn Settlement House
Academic Department: 
Occupational Therapy
Connect
Purpose: 
At the Friendly Inn Settlement, Inc. in the Central Neighborhood children find a safe space to learn and grow thanks to the organization’s after school program. Once every week for one semester, a group of students in the Occupational Therapy Program at Cleveland State University work with the children in the after school program. Their activities are aimed at creating healthy hobbies that will foster the students’ social and emotional well-being. About 50-70 per children participate each week in the OT groups for Healthy Occupations for Positive Emotions (HOPE). Most of them come from low-income, high-risk households. Some come from single family homes. Susan Bazyk, Ph.D., is the CSU faculty member who developed and leads this service learning initiative at Friendly Inn. The students apply their knowledge of group process while engaging the youth in a variety of arts and crafts and activities to fostering social and emotional learning. The youth learn strategies for expressing emotions and regulating behavior. “Young persons living in poverty are at high risk of enduring chronic stress,” Bazyk said. “They’re living in environments where some of them see and are exposed to violence. Some are deprived of opportunities to engage in enjoyable after-school activities that can counteract this stress.”
Outcomes: 
As a result of the program, students are given a space to creatively express themselves in the hopes of reducing their stresses and promoting positive mental health. When the children express their feelings in a healthy way, they learn stress management skills they can use throughout their lifetime. Children also learn how to practice deep breathing and take timeouts to cope with their stressors rather than resort to aggressive behavior.
Benefit to Community: 
Children who participate in the HOPE groups enjoy the activities, often noting to the OT student leaders that they wish they could come more often. “Children are innately good and need opportunities to do fun activities after school,” Bazyk said. “We’re really a bright spot in their week.” For occupational therapy students at CSU participating in the program, the benefits are also numerous. “My students really learn how to apply knowledge they’ve gained about running a therapeutic group,” she said. Additionally, Bazyk added, many of her Cleveland State students come from middle class households and have little experience with low-income urban youth, like those who live in the Central neighborhood. “They learn about the impact of poverty by what they see,” she said. “It helps them be more culturally aware.”
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Partnership Contact

Susan Bazyk
Susan Bazyk, Ph.D. is a professor in the Occupational Therapy Program.

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