Over 130 students, faculty, and staff from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Columbian College of Arts and Sciences applied, and were selected, to serve as volunteers at the White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, April 10, 2023.
Select volunteers from occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology programs attended to support approximately forty thousand guests and the accessibility services to increase participation and improve all guests' experience. The event included its first ever sensory-friendly session and was designed for children thirteen years and younger and their families, and featured an egg roll, egg hunt, egg dyeing, photo opportunities, and more.
Volunteer doctoral students from the occupational therapy program were placed into teams to offer accessibility support for the sensory-friendly session from 7-9 am and collaborated with students across disciplines to offer physical, cognitive, and linguistic support for disabled attendees. Volunteers also greeted attendees, answered questions, and provided information at each of the assigned stations.
“I handed out eggs to parents of children that have visual impairments. The eggs were beeper eggs and sounded a bit loud, but they helped the kids to locate the eggs just the same as every other kid could be able to. It was really impactful to see the adaptations that can be made to really anything that you can do, even an Easter egg hunt,” said occupational therapy doctoral student, Natalie Sipes.
The White House educated volunteers on how to communicate respectfully and display proper etiquette among people with disabilities as one in four Americans have a disability that is not always apparent.
“This experience really followed on what the students have been learning this semester, especially surrounding activity adaptation and activity analysis. Students could look at what the activities needed and then what the children needed to be able to participate in the activities, equitably, with all the children that are here today,” said occupational therapy assistant professor, Dr. Tippi Geron, OTD, OTR/L, CCM.
The large number of GW student, faculty, and staff participation demonstrated their commitment to accessibility, inclusion, and community service and were among participants including athletes from professional sports leagues, the George Mason Pep Band, and professional racing driver Alexander Rossi, and more.