Rachel Alderton, a second-year occupational therapy student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, decided to volunteer to plan this year’s Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center Art Show and Auction after an interaction with a child who had a painting at last year’s event.
“Last year, I went to the art show for the first time and there was this one little girl who stood by her painting the entire time. She was so excited to be there. It was just so influential for me to see how much of an impact just having her art on display had on her confidence. I wanted to be a part of that, and to help kids display their art to promote self-esteem and self-worth.”
Alderton, along with other occupational therapy students in the College of Health Professions at UTHSC, will host the third-annual Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center Art Show and Auction to benefit the Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center, the only student run, pro bono occupational therapy clinic in the Mid-South.
Themed “The Greatest Art Show,” the event will be July 25 from 4-6 p.m. at the Madison Plaza Lobby, 920 Madison Avenue. It is free and open to the public. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on artwork created by children, and purchase artwork created by adults. Some of the artwork for auction was created by children or adults in the community who have received therapy sessions from UTHSC OT students.
“The children are thrilled to have their talent and creative expressions showcased, and it is so heart-warming to see those who can attend the event smiling and wearing their “I’m an Artist” T-shirts,” said Anne Zachry, PhD, OTR/L, chair of the OT Department.
Proceeds will benefit the Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center (RKSTC), which provides OT services to the uninsured and underinsured. The center, located at 711 Jefferson Avenue, is named in memory of OT student Rachel Kay Stevens, who died shortly after beginning OT school at UTHSC. The center is managed and staffed by OT student volunteers under supervision of faculty.
“The UTHSC Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center provides our OT students with opportunities for hands-on clinical experience under the supervision of licensed occupational therapists,” Dr. Zachry said. “The students are able to watch the therapy sessions from the observation room, which offers rich learning opportunities.”
OT students have the opportunity to work with patients at the center twice per month.
“The whole reason OT students love RKSTC so much is because we get to run it in a sense,” Alderton said. “We have a practitioner who stays with us and supervises the therapy sessions. It’s a way for us to get out of the classroom and apply the skills we are learning.”
Community partners, including Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Shelby County Schools, Germantown Schools, Concord Academy, Ronald McDonald House, Southern Reins, Simple Strokes, and JoyLife901, are some of the organizations that UTHSC OT students have worked with to create artwork for the event. Specific pieces will illustrate reflections from UTHSC OT students of their therapy sessions with the artist of that painting.
A few special paintings done by children from Batesville, Arkansas, Stevens’ hometown, will be up for bid. There will also be art created by a few local professional artists for bid. The Memphis Medical District Collaborative is contributing funding for the event.
This year’s theme is based on the movie “The Greatest Showman,” which tells the story of the creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Second-year OT students bonded over the movie, after going to see it during their first semester as occupational therapy students. The art show will feature carnival themed elements, including decorations, a photo booth with carnival props, glitter tattoos, face painting done by OT students, popcorn, and a character dressed as a circus ringmaster.