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STARability Partners with Florida Gulf Coast University for Occupational Therapy Program

STARability Foundation is excited to partner with the Occupational Therapy Program in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University to offer onsite visits for participants. This innovative partnership provides STARability participants the opportunity to regularly visit the campus and interact with FGCU students, faculty and staff.

“We are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to partner with FGCU in a new and meaningful way,” said Madison Nehls, chief program officer at STARability Foundation. “This campus exposure is invaluable for both our participants and the occupational therapy students involved. The collaboration between our organizations encourages a dynamic exchange of ideas and promotes innovative approaches for ongoing support in growth and independence.”

As part of STARability’s pioneering day-program, the Trailblazer Academy, STAR participants recently spent the day with occupational therapy students at the FGCU campus. This visit gave participants the opportunity to showcase their interests, observe an authentic classroom setting and participate in real-world, hands-on experiences, such as exploring the campus using public transportation, interacting with students, and eating in the dining hall with a focus on making healthy food choices.

The new partnership expands on an existing collaboration with the occupational therapy department at FGCU. Established in 2020, this partnership provides fieldwork experience for the university’s students that enhances the holistic development of STARability’s participants. The students have the opportunity to address physical, cognitive and psychosocial aspects with a diverse range of intervention strategies and therapeutic activities.

“As an associate professor and vocational rehabilitation researcher, it has been amazing to see the growth in services offered by STARability,” said Annemarie Connor, PhD, OTR/L. “It has been rewarding to work with a community organization that truly embraces the research-to-practice philosophy. As a STARability PreciseAbility board member and a clinical supervisor to FGCU occupational therapy students engaged in fieldwork with STARability, I have seen firsthand how the organization values continuous quality improvement for all their stakeholders. I am thankful to STARability for their enthusiasm in hosting our graduate students and partnering on research that impacts the disability community.”

The master’s level occupational therapy program at FGCU prepares students to work with various agencies in the community to plan programs or strategies to maximize the ability of community members to live independently and fully participate in the life and amenities of the community. Occupational therapists address the needs of a wide variety of clients, both as individuals and as groups, such as elderly individuals who suffer a decline in functioning, people with mental illness or substance abuse, those with physical impairments, injured workers and children with developmental delays. Learn more at