Showing their pride

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OT/PT Day of Solidarity
Hannah Brown 1317
Staff members at PS 721 on Staten Island show their pride and support.
Miller Photography

Staff members at PS 721 on Staten Island show their pride and support.

Physical therapist Karen Lewis (left) and occupational therapist Denise Gourdine

Physical therapist Karen Lewis (left) and occupational therapist Denise Gourdine with their bulletin board decorated for the day of solidarity at PS 208 in Brooklyn.

“We want to make ourselves known,” said Nancy Acevedo, an occupational therapist at PS 264 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Acevedo was one of hundreds of occupational therapists, physical therapists and educators who donned “Union Proud” chapter T-shirts on May 13 for the UFT Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter’s day of solidarity.

The chapter leadership was spurred to organize the day after the city was cited for not providing mandated services to students with disabilities.

“Our members provide a large chunk of those necessary services,” said Thomas Ayrovainen, an occupational therapist at IS 74 in Oakland Gardens, Queens, and the chapter leader of the Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter. “The aim of the day was to galvanize the chapter, show pride in our work and call on the DOE to provide all mandated services to students.”

Therapists clad in the chapter T-shirts posed for group shots with school chapter leaders and other school colleagues. Many members also made signs and bulletin boards declaring their pride.

“This brought the whole school together,” said Catherine Szpunt, who works at PS 2 in East Elmburst, Queens, and is the occupational therapist at-large representative for regional schools for the UFT chapter. “It made us feel like part of our schools and our union.”

Therapists saw the day of solidarity as an important way to improve visibility for their chapter and for the work they do. “We often go unrecognized by school staff and chapter leaders in the building,” said Ayrovainen. “We work in multiple sites and help the neediest children, often without appropriate space or materials.”

Szpunt said therapists routinely think out of the box. “They find creative ways to help students integrate and access their curriculum so eventually they’ll need fewer services,” she said.

Staff, administration and parents “don’t always really know why we’re there,” said Acevedo, simply because they haven’t met or worked with occupational and physical therapists before. But “little by little,” she said, educators are learning “the importance of therapists in the school and why it’s important for us to work together.”

Beth Salzman, an occupational therapist at PS 42 in Chinatown in Manhattan, said seeing her colleagues “go out of their way to celebrate” occupational and physical therapists on the day of solidarity “showed that they value” the important work that members of her chapter do.

Occupational and Physical Therapists Day of Solidarity

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The staff at PS 721 on Staten Island show their pride and support.
The staff at PS 721 on Staten Island show their pride and support.
Miller Photography
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UFT members at PS 65 in Queens gather for a group photo in support of their scho
UFT members at PS 65 in Queens gather for a group photo in support of their school’s occupation and physical therapists.
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Aideen Dela Cruz (left), a physical therapist at PS 449 in the Bronx, shows supp
Aideen Dela Cruz (left), a physical therapist at PS 449 in the Bronx, shows support with Ilana Hirsch, an occupational therapist at PS 163, which is housed in the same building.
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At PS 721 on Staten Island, therapists Kathryn Beckmann and Svetlana Buencamino
At PS 721 on Staten Island, therapists Kathryn Beckmann and Svetlana Buencamino joke around before the group photo.
Miller Photography
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The staff of PS 363 in Manhattan wore red to show their support for occupational
The staff of PS 363 in Manhattan wore red to show their support for occupational and physical therapists.
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UFT members at PS 85 in Queens take time to thank occupational and physical ther
UFT members at PS 85 in Queens take time to thank occupational and physical therapists.
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Smiling for the camera at PS 121 in Brooklyn are (from left) Freda Shafkowitz, a
Smiling for the camera at PS 121 in Brooklyn are (from left) Freda Shafkowitz, a physical therapist; Shayna Lesham, an occupational therapist; Elka Arnold, an occupational therapist; and Taryn Johrdyn, an occupational therapy student.
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Union members at PS 343 in Queens show their union pride.
Union members at PS 343 in Queens show their union pride.
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Physical therapist Karen Lewis (left) and occupational therapist Denise Gourdine
Physical therapist Karen Lewis (left) and occupational therapist Denise Gourdine with their bulletin board decorated for the day of solidarity at PS 208 in Brooklyn.
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Showing their pride with a handmade sign at Richmond Hill High School in Queens

Showing their pride with a handmade sign at Richmond Hill High School in Queens are (from left) Laura Peguero, a psychology intern, Marie Monterroso, a school psychologist and Christina Duffy, a school based support team family assistant.

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The staff at PS 721 on Staten Island show their pride and support.
The staff at PS 721 on Staten Island show their pride and support.
Miller Photography
Image
UFT members at PS 65 in Queens gather for a group photo in support of their scho
UFT members at PS 65 in Queens gather for a group photo in support of their school’s occupation and physical therapists.
Image
Aideen Dela Cruz (left), a physical therapist at PS 449 in the Bronx, shows supp
Aideen Dela Cruz (left), a physical therapist at PS 449 in the Bronx, shows support with Ilana Hirsch, an occupational therapist at PS 163, which is housed in the same building.
Image
At PS 721 on Staten Island, therapists Kathryn Beckmann and Svetlana Buencamino
At PS 721 on Staten Island, therapists Kathryn Beckmann and Svetlana Buencamino joke around before the group photo.
Miller Photography
Image
The staff of PS 363 in Manhattan wore red to show their support for occupational
The staff of PS 363 in Manhattan wore red to show their support for occupational and physical therapists.
Image
UFT members at PS 85 in Queens take time to thank occupational and physical ther
UFT members at PS 85 in Queens take time to thank occupational and physical therapists.
Image
Smiling for the camera at PS 121 in Brooklyn are (from left) Freda Shafkowitz, a
Smiling for the camera at PS 121 in Brooklyn are (from left) Freda Shafkowitz, a physical therapist; Shayna Lesham, an occupational therapist; Elka Arnold, an occupational therapist; and Taryn Johrdyn, an occupational therapy student.
Image
Union members at PS 343 in Queens show their union pride.
Union members at PS 343 in Queens show their union pride.
Image
Physical therapist Karen Lewis (left) and occupational therapist Denise Gourdine
Physical therapist Karen Lewis (left) and occupational therapist Denise Gourdine with their bulletin board decorated for the day of solidarity at PS 208 in Brooklyn.
Image
Showing their pride with a handmade sign at Richmond Hill High School in Queens

Showing their pride with a handmade sign at Richmond Hill High School in Queens are (from left) Laura Peguero, a psychology intern, Marie Monterroso, a school psychologist and Christina Duffy, a school based support team family assistant.

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Member Spotlight
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Source URL: https://www.uft.org/news/member-spotlight/showing-their-pride