It’s not often that we hear that someone discovers Keshet via a Google search, but that’s exactly what happened with Keshet’s new intern Deiondre Taylor. When Dre researched potential internships for his occupational therapy graduate field work, he quickly learned that Keshet’s inclusive community, particularly in our recreation programs, is the perfect space for him to be able to develop a sports therapy curriculum for children with disabilities. Yet, what he may have not known was that Keshet needs him just as much as he needs us. His curriculum will serve as a launch pad to help bring recreation programs, and ultimately the whole organization, to the next level.
When Keshet unveiled its strategic plan for 2023-2025, one priority is looking at the ways that we can innovate and deepen our programs to continue growing alongside participants. This includes reaching a higher quality of program evaluation, research, planning and improvement and also hiring the staff to fill gaps and then accomplish these goals. With a unique background and expertise, Dre joining Keshet’s recreation team to help implement new sports programming is just one way that we can fulfill the objectives of the strategic plan, and additionally shape the lives of our participants and families.
Dre is a graduate student at the University of Mary studying to become an occupational therapist. His research is specifically focused on how sports and physical activity can influence social skills, motor skills, sensory integration and emotion regulation in people with autism and other disabilities. His experience and passion as a collegiate athlete led him to discover a new passion for occupational therapy with a focus in sports. Dre’s mindset has always been about bringing people’s abilities to the forefront, and believes there are always ways to modify and adapt to fit the needs of all individuals–two mottos that Keshet’s programs live by.
While Dre is helping to support many of Keshet’s recreation programs, his main focus is developing and implementing the curriculum for Thursday’s Fitness and Sports Galore after school program. He teaches participants the fundamentals of basic sports by practicing catching, running, passing, throwing and kicking skills. He instructs participants that sports is more than just physical activity–it’s about collaboration, communication, teamwork and fun–all of which can contribute to positive social and emotional growth in people with disabilities. Dre loves seeing the smiles on Keshet’s participants’ faces every day and watching their confidence grow as they develop new skills in his class.
In the first few weeks of the program, participants are already making strides, but the work does not end there. In addition to observing Keshet’s other programs, Dre spends his down time constantly researching new things to advance his knowledge and be able to facilitate the best work possible. He interviews other occupational therapists about the work they do to be able to learn from different perspectives and make his own programs better. He is also creating a list of survey questions for parents in the class to find out what skills they want their child to learn and developing outcome measures to be able to assess participants’ progress over time.
Recreation programs at Keshet have always been about more than just fun. Our hope is to also help encourage social growth, emotional development, self-confidence and communication skills in our participants. Expanding Keshet’s network of expertise to collaborate with people with all kinds of experiences is crucial in accomplishing these goals, which is why bringing someone like Deiondre in is so beneficial. His unique background and expertise allows us to think about new ways we can encourage participants to develop their skills and ultimately enhance Keshet’s programs. We are grateful that a simple Google search has made all the difference for us, and can’t wait to see what Dre will accomplish in his short time at Keshet. We hope to be able to bring in more people like him to our programs in the future so that we can continue to grow and thrive.