Einstein Buddies: Experiential Learning Partnerships Change Perceptions (NY UCEDD/LEND)

November 3, 2016

Einstein Buddies is an innovative Community Based Service Learning program (CBSL) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine that joins pediatric occupational and physical therapists, individuals with developmental disabilities and their families at the Rose F. Kennedy Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) UCEDD with first year medical students to develop collaborative relationships while engaged in experiential learning.

Led by Faculty Advisors Drs. Carol Terilli (PT) and Liz Ridgway (OT), this year's board members, Katherine Seibert, James Leonard and Sunil Chickmagalur, are pictured above with the 2016-17 Einstein Buddies crew in the Therapy gym at RFK CERC. The Einstein Buddies participate in therapy sessions and RFK CERC special events learning from each other, expanding perceptions bidirectionally and appreciating the power of participation for everyone. Einstein Buddies is modeled after "Best Buddies" a global volunteer movement that creates 1:1 friendships, integrated employment, and leadership for people with intellectual and development disabilities. This alternative model, Einstein Buddies, was developed to allow our medical students to join despite their demanding medical school schedule.

The medical students find that their experience with the children informs them about developmental issues while giving them a chance to play and enjoy the activities, sometimes in awe of their playmates capacity in therapy. The patients are aware that the students will become doctors, and enjoy their role as teachers. Their perception of doctors is enhanced seeing them have fun and be silly. This year the groups' activities will expand to include collaborative topic discussions targeting health and wellness for adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities during their weekly peer group session. In its fifth year since inception, cheers to another year of Einstein Buddies at RFK CERC!