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The creativity and collaboration at the heart of The Center for Discovery were on full display Monday, June 26, as clinicians and educators gathered for the annual SEED talks at the Michael Ritchie Big Barn Center for Environmental Health, Education and Research.

The SEED (Synergistic, Experiential, Evidence-based, Discoveries) talks were created in 2012 as a way for staff to share their innovations and current projects with each other. What began as a clinician-only event has spread to this year including more than 100 staff members, from occupational therapists and teachers to farmers and dance therapists. With such a big staff spread across varying departments and campuses at TCFD, Manager of Clinical Innovation and Special Projects Jason Kean wanted to design an event that would enhance communication across disciplines and reinforce the collaboration that already happens on its own at The Center every day. It’s certainly working, Kean said – the content of the 15-minute talks presented by staff are of the highest quality, and each year the event becomes more inspirational.

Senior Director of Music Therapy Conio Loretto has presented a SEED talk each year, and he said the day serves as a vehicle to share the innovation and creativity happening at The Center, and be inspired by it.

“It celebrates the collaborative spirit that is The Center,” Loretto said.

This year, Loretto presented a talk with a teacher and a behavior specialist who shared their team effort in using music to help a student regulate his emotions. As they played video of the student singing songs he wrote in order to calm himself down, other staff were moved to tears.

It was the first year the SEED talks were held on a teacher conference day, so the entire teaching staff could participate in the event. It’s so beneficial, Education Director Jeff Bordeman said, because teachers get so focused on what’s happening in their personal classroom that they don’t have a chance to see their work as a piece of what’s going on across the whole Center. Teachers got to see things they hadn’t thought of, Bordeman said, and now they have fresh ideas to try in their own classrooms.

It’s all about inspiring that creativity in order to come up with the ideas that will help The Center’s students and residents most, said Nicole Kinney, Chief of Clinical Services.

“It’s a culture, really, of ‘I have a cool idea, it’s going to be supported,’” Kinney said. “I think that drives people to want to do more.”

Christine Ertola and Sherma Williams, co-directors of the Therapeutic Dance Department, helped present their team’s work in using dance choreography and music to teach students how to complete farming tasks like weeding, raking and feeding the pigs. When Williams told her they had been asked to help the farm team, Ertola said her first reaction was that they didn’t know anything about farming, and dance and farming didn’t belong together. But they quickly realized they had exactly the expertise needed to teach unfamiliar body movements. Soon enough they were dancing in the fields.

“We’ve done a lot of different things, but this one was definitely out of the box,” Williams said.

Sometimes there’s risk involved in trying a new technique, Loretto said, but The Center knows how to take creative risks that pay off. The SEED talks show that.

“They represent the risks we take here, to try something new and go down whatever path the work is taking us,” Loretto said.