ASPIRE 2020

Page 44

NEWS & NOTES

Alumna launches recreational therapy program to help foster youth When a program closure left many foster youth without access to vital counseling services, Lilli Higgins, a 2017 Oklahoma State University recreational therapy graduate, founded her own therapy nonprofit to help. Higgins stepped into action last October when the foster youth she worked with were set to be displaced by founding Together Just, the only private practice recreational therapy program in Oklahoma. She now provides individual and group therapy sessions, educates primary caregivers and has launched four school-based campaigns to build mental health awareness. “When the hospital closed, the kids I worked with were totally displaced,” Higgins said. “I started putting pen to paper of what it would look like to start a nonprofit and how I could develop some resources for our community that are accessible, low-cost or even free.”

Higgins describes recreational therapy as “play with purpose,” incorporating an individual’s interests, desires and goals into treatment. “Recreational therapists use a collaborative, person-centered technique,” Higgins said. “They incorporate all aspects and interests of the client’s life, making the therapy process more meaningful and relevant.” Higgins’ hands-on experiences in OSU’s recreational therapy program, including time spent in the OSU Warm Water Therapy Lab and the Cleo L. Craig Child Development Lab, helped confirm her decision to become a recreational therapist and prepared her for this current nonprofit venture. “I left college with so much patient care experience and confidence in my ability to build rapport with a patient and interact with their families,”

Higgins said. “I think that’s pretty rare for an undergrad program.” For the foster care youth and clients Higgins works with, that expertise can make all the difference.

OSU strengthens ties with Sweden’s Uppsala University In fall 2019, OSU welcomed two scholars from Sweden’s Uppsala University. Dr. Martin Karlberg, senior lecturer in the Department of Education and Education Studies, and Dr. Henrik Edgren, head of the Department of Education and senior lecturer, spent a week immersed in American culture, connecting with colleagues of similar disciplines and exploring opportunities for collaboration between Uppsala and Oklahoma State. “There is so much value in understanding global perspective as it relates to educational research and practice,” said Dr. Susie Popplewell, international programs coordinator for the College of Education and Human Sciences. “While the U.S. and Sweden have some notable differences in their approaches to education, there are also some remarkable similarities in what schools in Sweden and schools in the U.S. are experiencing. Child behaviors

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From left: Jorge Atiles, Henrik Edgren, Martin Karlberg, Bert Jacobson and Susie Popplewell

and adverse childhood experiences are great examples of this. These are topics education professionals across the globe are dealing with, and we can learn so much from one another.”


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