In September 2011, I invited 13 school-based occupational therapists (OTs) from the Greater Cleveland area to join me for 6 months to read,1 reflect, and think about how to apply a public health approach to mental health in schools. We used a combination of face-to-face meetings and online discussions to examine current practice and envision how schools can promote mental health in all children and youth – those with and without disabilities and/or mental health challenges. Our combined wisdom, creative thinking, and knowledge of current evidence2 led to the development of Every Moment Counts: Promoting Mental Health Throughout the Day – a school-wide initiative funded by the Office of Exceptional Children, Ohio Department of Education in May 2012. The 'original group' of 13 OTs have served as 'OT Change Leaders' for this project – developing and implementing models programs, creating toolkit materials, and educating other OTs throughout the state.
Original OT Change Leaders:
Carol Conway, MS, OTR/L – Hudson City Schools
Louise Demirjian, MA, OTR/L – OT Consultant
Teri LaGuardia, MOT, OTR/L – Northcoast Therapy
Fran Horvath, OTR/L –Constellation Schools, Parma Community School
Karen Thompson-Repas, MBA, OTR/L – Kaleidoscope Therapy
Lezlie Fahl Kinder, OTR/L – Willoughby-Eastlake City School District
Rebecca Mohler, MOT, OTR/L – Sendero Therapy
David Weiss, OTR/L – Positive Education Programs (PEP)
Paula Michaud, MEd, OTR/L – Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD)
Robin Kirschenbaum, OTD, OTR/L – Cleveland Municipal School District
Lisa O’Halloran, MS, OTR/L – Cleveland Municipal School District
Eileen Dixon, MS, OTR/L – Cleveland Municipal School District
1 Bazyk, S. (ed.). (2011). Mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention for children and youth: A guiding framework for occupational therapy. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.
2 Bazyk, S., & Arbesman, M. (2013). Occupational Therapy's Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion, Prevention, & Intervention. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.