Daily News

AIC Receives Grant to Support Mental-health Initiative for Springfield Youth

SPRINGFIELD — The Division of Occupational Therapy (OT) Services at American International College (AIC) announced its receipt of a $15,000 grant from the Hope for Youth and Families Foundation, established by Bob Bolduc, former CEO of Pride Stores.

This grant will facilitate collaboration among the division, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services of Springfield (MLKFS), and the MLK Charter School of Excellence in Springfield to implement the evidence-based mental-health promotion initiative “Every Moment Counts.” The objective of this program is to empower participating youths, including 60 students in the MLK after-school program and 340 students at the MLK Charter School, through engaging activities tailored to promote mental health, enhance self-esteem, and foster resilience.

This partnership is the result of a proposal developed by Professor and Post-professional OTD Faculty Lead Dr. Allison Sullivan, who also serves on the board of directors at MLKFS. AIC’s faculty leadership in this initiative offers valuable field-work opportunities for emerging practitioners enrolled in AIC’s Occupational Therapy program. Sullivan and her AIC colleague, Dr. Christine Helfrich, will provide comprehensive training to AIC OT students and staff members at both MLKFS and the MLK Charter School of Excellence on the principles of the “Every Moment Counts” program to enhance mental well-being in children. The first training session begins in late August.

Bolduc expressed his enthusiasm for the project. “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.”

Sullivan extended her gratitude to Bolduc for the generous contribution that has given life to this initiative.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Sullivan is optimistic about the project’s objectives, which include fostering positive mental health among the participating children, as well as creating new opportunities for community staff and college students. Through innovative programs, this project aims to dismantle barriers that disproportionately impact the health and well-being of young members of the Springfield community.