New occupational therapy program at North Mississippi Boys & Girls Club

Published 5:07 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

By Keely May
Integrated Marketing Intern
The University of Mississippi

Brandi Reynolds, an occupational therapy doctorate candidate in her final year at Spalding University, has created an occupational therapy program at the Boys & Girls Club in Tupelo.

Reynolds, a Tupelo native, received her undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University in kinesiology. Now she is a student in her final year of occupational therapy schooling. Reynolds chose to take a nontraditional route in completing her capstone at the Boys & Girls Clubs.

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“Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on increasing the wellbeing of individuals through activities of daily living, and it is very broad. That is the beautiful thing about OT,” said Reynolds.

Unlike many of the other students in Reynolds’s cohort who spend their days in a hospital setting, Reynolds works hands on with Boys & Girls Club members after school. Her special interest in the field is social and emotional regulation. This shows through her daily work with members.

“With the recent mental health and obesity concerns, it’s essential that Boys & Girls Clubs develop a culture of wellness and good health. The Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi’s Health & Wellness programs support the emotional health of club members and staff. Our programs promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy choices,” said Tonny Oliver, director of operations at the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi.

During Reynolds’s time with the members, she tries to give them tools to problem solve on their own. When members come to her complaining that they want someone to share with them, she will empower them to go ask for themselves. She will also encourage members to ask other members to play if someone seems left out. She wants to give members confidence in their own voice and ability to problem solve. When speaking with Reynolds, she recalled a story of a boy who came to her excited because he asked another member to come play with him, and he did. The little boy was so eager to include somebody else in his fun.

“And you could just tell the excitement in his voice; that allowed him to feel his importance and value,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds’s passion for the Boys & Girls Club showed as she spoke. She encouraged anyone considering interning with the Boys & Girls Clubs to do so.

“If you have the opportunity to intern – even if it is not the norm – I highly recommend doing it,” said Reynolds.

Oliver also spoke on the importance of interns: “Interns provide the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi an opportunity to invest in the future success of the organization and potentially discover new talent and future leaders.”