When Natalie Louderback approached ACR Homes about an internship in occupational art therapy, she really didn’t expect the residents to be such talented artists.
She found, to her surprise, that many were as creatively inclined as she was.
“The greatest myth society has put on these folks is definitely the myth that they are not able to do as much as what society calls an ‘able-bodied’ person,” notes Louderback. “These ladies can do anything, and will do anything. They have taught me how to knit and paint and do other fun things I never thought I could do. I love how creative they are … they’re considered the crafty ladies.”
Soon after joining ACR as a direct care professional last year, she began exploring the organization’s many internship opportunities. The structured program in occupational art therapy jumped out at her as an excellent option; now she’s able to keep earning a paycheck as a DCP while learning more about a potential career in art therapy. Natalie was the driving force in creating a resident Talent Show which was held this past summer–a hugely successful highlight of all the many talents of the residents of ACR who chose to participate. She’s also gaining some supervisory experience as an on-call supervisor for her home.
“I want to work with adults with disabilities primarily, so working with ACR gives me front-row seats to helping the exact group I hope to help in the future,” she explains.
Some outcomes of her internship so far?
“I have grown to be a more empathetic person. My patience has grown a thousand percent, and my (desire) to help people has as well. This experience will definitely help my future career path, not only in the experience, but in the more personable side. I will be an occupational therapist who listens and doesn’t see the disability in the person — just the person.”
Louderback says she’s also been pleasantly surprised at the camaraderie among residents and staff.
“First starting, I never expected to make this big of a connection with my residents,” she remarks. “I guess I knew I was going to make some connections, but my residents have become like family. We laugh, play, tease, joke. All my residents have a wonderful sense of humor. Just seeing how happy they get makes my day.”
Her advice for other students interested in ACR internships?
“Be ready to make lifelong friendships not only with residents, but with the staff. It’s by far the best decision I have ever made, and it will make you grow as a person. It’s one of the best jobs one can have if you want to go into the medical field.”
Check out Natalie’s Internship Highlight video!