For second-year Occupational Therapy student Shani Henley, an upcoming art show fundraiser at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has a special meaning.
The show, May 9, will raise money for the Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center at UTHSC, a student-run, pro bono, pediatric occupational therapy center founded in 2016 in memory of OT student Rachel Kay Stevens, who died suddenly after starting her training at UTHSC. Henley is her childhood friend, and the two had planned to go through OT school together.
Now, Henley is chair of the center that bears her friend’s name, and is heading up a major fundraiser for the center – the inaugural Pediatric Art Show.
“We were in it together, and we were going to make it to the end together,” Henley said. “I feel very strongly that this is my opportunity to do something for her, and for it to be something that we do together, even though she isn’t here.”
The show will be held from 4-6:30 p.m. in the Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center, which is located on the fourth floor of the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities at 711 Jefferson Avenue. Admission is free, and the public is invited to view and bid on the more than 40 pieces done by children who are receiving OT services or are enrolled in resources or special needs classes in the community. The theme of the show is “I Can.”
OT students have reached out to local schools, pediatric clinics, hospitals, and private practices to solicit the artwork that will be displayed and sold in the silent auction. All proceeds will go to the center, which serves children of families in the region who are underinsured or uninsured and have difficulty accessing pediatric occupational therapy services, screenings for critical developmental delays, and other services.
The event also aims to raise community awareness of the center, the only student-run pediatric OT clinic of its kind in the country, so that more families in need can access the services. “We’re really wanting to raise awareness about the clinic, because we can be a great resource for so many kids in the Memphis area,” Henley said.
“I’m just so happy I can be a part of this and help, not only for the kids in the community, but for Rachel as well,” Henley said. “She would have been so excited about the opportunity to do this.”
For more information about the art show go to www.rksartshow.com.