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February 12, 2021 | Downers Grove, IL
Midwestern University students recently hosted a virtual Valentine’s Dance for 80 clients from the South East Association for Special Parks and Recreation (SEASPAR), the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA), and the West Chicago High School Best Buddies Program. The virtual event was organized by students in the Clinical Psychology Program and sponsored by the College of Health Sciences, the Office of Student Services, and the Clinical Psychology Program.
“This year was the 20th anniversary of the Valentine’s Dance, and despite the pandemic, we knew we had to find a way to bring this event to our faithful participants. Normally, we have a variety of activities from dancing to crafts, games, cookie decorating, and a photo booth. Of course, we had to make some shifts due to the pandemic, but wanted to still provide options for our non-dancers,” said Jessica Sheppard, Class President for the Clinical Psychology Class of 2024, and one of the organizers of the event. “We were able to pre-package craft kits with all the necessary supplies to create some fun Valentine’s DIYs that were sent to participants in advance of the dance. Participants were also able to freely come in and out of the virtual craft and dance ‘spaces’ to enjoy themselves however they pleased,” she added.
The event is an annual tradition on the Downers Grove Campus and an opportunity for students to provide a service to the community while learning more about the diverse group of people they may encounter as future healthcare professionals. “As healthcare practitioners, events like these remind you that clients and patients have lives outside the therapy room or exam room. It is critical to never lose touch with the aspects of life that make us human,” Ms. Sheppard said. “This event illustrates that we all have the same needs and wants for friendship, love, human connection, and of course the opportunity to get dressed up and dance.”
Students from all the University’s academic programs including osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, dental medicine, optometry, and the health sciences are encouraged to participate in the event. More than 30 student volunteers from several academic programs volunteered at the virtual dance.