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Project Eagle Hosts Occupational Therapy Capstone Student

Student shares sensory processing information and resources with early childhood teachers

When Elizabeth Mulholland, a doctoral student in the KU School of Health Professions occupational therapy program, was thinking about her 14-week capstone project, she “was looking forward to being at a site where she could not only partner and collaborate, but help fill a need.” 

She chose Project Eagle, an early childhood program in Wyandotte County offered by KU Medical Center, since the program had identified a need for staff to learn more about sensory processing, preferences and needs. Sensory processing differences can influence an individual in a variety of ways, from their sense of balance to their sensitivity to sounds or a litany of other experiences.

A woman reading a book to children seated on the floorIn January, Elizabeth began her practicum by developing a pre-questionnaire where Project Eagle teachers ranked their confidence around their understanding of sensory preferences. She then was able to create targeted resources and references to help address the needs of the teachers. Through these materials, teachers learned more about sensory processing and made adaptations to their rooms and daily routines to address the sensory preferences of the infants, toddlers and preschoolers who attend Project Eagle. Through discussions, Elizabeth also determined individual needs for some of the enrolled children and gave further specific guidance to help with self-regulation. 

This was Elizabeth’s first placement working with the pediatric population. KU’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy program consistently ranks among the best in the country according to national rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Students in KU’s occupational therapy program gain extensive experience through fieldwork. Elizabeth said that, through her experience with Project Eagle, she learned more about children’s developmental milestones. 

“Being immersed in a program in Wyandotte County also helped me learn more about the diverse demographics and available resources of the county, plus gain a better understanding of the social determinants of health differences compared to other areas of the metro,” she said. 

Elizabeth enjoyed the autonomy of this capstone project. She was able to use her time in many ways, which included researching her areas of interest. She spent her mornings in classrooms with planned hands-on activities and then spent her afternoons collaborating with her mentors, which included early childhood coordinators in mental health, education, special education and health. 

Following graduation in May, Elizabeth will begin her career as a traveling occupational therapist this summer. 

Plans are already in place for Project Eagle to host two more occupational therapy capstone students starting next January. The students will continue the work that Elizabeth began and will also investigate ways Project Eagle’s home visitors might use these same resources in their work with families. 

View Elizabeth Mulholland's capstone poster presentation: Supporting Developmental Milestones at Project Eagle (PDF)

About Project Eagle

Project Eagle is a program of the University of Kansas Medical Center providing services for Wyandotte County’s youngest children and their families since 1989. With a staff of 80+ highly qualified, prepared and invested staff members, provides direct services to pregnant women and families with young children in Wyandotte County, Kansas, through Early Head Start Home Visiting, Educare Kansas City  Center-Based programming, and the Connections Comprehensive Early Childhood Screening and Referral Program. Its programs focus on the health and well-being of young children and expectant families and aim to prepare children, engage families and promote excellence in the broader field of early childhood education. Project Eagle annually serves future professionals from the fields of education, social work, public health, nursing and medicine through student internships. 

Recently, Project Eagle opened the Family Resource Center for all families living in Wyandotte County. The Family Resource Center serves as a connecting hub for families to identify and access services to help them succeed and to provide thriving and nurturing environments for their children. This program serves any family who is expecting a baby or cares for a child under five years of age, and all members of the family are welcome to attend. The center is located at 444 Minnesota Avenue, Suite 228, Kansas City, KS 66101. You can also reach the center also by calling 913-321-9999. 

Visit the Project Eagle homepage to learn more about the organization, its programs and services offered. 

Institute for Community Engagement

University of Kansas Medical Center
Institute for Community Engagement

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3901 Rainbow Boulevard

Kansas City, KS 66160