OTD Students Buddy Up with Aqua Buddies of Springfield’s Center for Human Development

Western New England University Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) students are making waves with local youth in the Aqua Buddies program, offered in conjunction with ALL-IN: Barrier-Free Recreation through the Center for Human Development (CHD).

The Aqua Buddies program pairs OTD students with youth and young adults with disabilities ranging in age between 4 and 21 years old. The weekly aquatic therapy sessions enable student volunteers to apply classroom learning in a hands-on setting.

While the goal of the Aqua Buddies program is to increase comfort with water and focus on therapeutic play for the young participants, the program provides a learning experience for the OTD students as well. The program allows students to connect with a wider variety of populations and provides the opportunity to implement students’ own therapeutic ideas during aquatic play sessions.

These mutual benefits of the program capture one of the most rewarding aspects of the field. As second-year OTD candidate and Aqua Buddies program student coordinator, Courtney Colaccio, said, “There is truly nothing better than seeing your aqua buddy move and socialize in ways they hadn’t before.”