March 8, 2019

Children with developmental disabilities explore Michigan Outdoor Adventure Center with medical students

Arie Home Visit Program pairs medical students with families in Detroit who have a child with a developmental disability
The Arie Home Visit program pairs medical students with families in the Detroit community who have a child with a developmental disability.

Wayne State University School of Medicine students who provide support and comfort to pediatric patients through their student organization explored the great outdoors with participating children and their families at the ARIE Home Visit Program’s annual celebration, held last month at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit.

Located on Detroit’s riverfront, the Outdoor Adventure Center gives visitors a taste of the state’s great outdoors inside, in the heart of the city.

The Arie Home Visit program pairs medical students with families in the Detroit community who have a child with a developmental disability. The 2018-2019 program included 25 families, 16 of whom attended the party. There were 50 medical student volunteers in the program, comprised of freshman and sophomore students. The students, children and their families explored hands-on activities, exhibits and simulators, stepping into a fishing boat and reeling in a fish, canoeing, walking behind a waterfall and more.

“Through an orientation with the Developmental Disabilities Institute of Michigan at WSU, two home visits, and the Arie celebration, the students and families are able to build a relationship to better understand the challenges people with disabilities experience while navigating health care,” said Samantha Rea, a WSU medical student and Arie Foundation member. “Students gain exposure to the disability community and families are able to help students become better future providers for patients with developmental disabilities.”

The program supports a patient-centered care model, exposing medical students to diverse patient interactions early in their medical education.

Participating medical students visit families in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. The program gives the students the opportunity to assess their attitudes and perceptions of people with developmental disabilities and interact on a personal level with families. They also gain insight into the home life, medical needs and personal concerns of the family, translating into greater empathy and understanding.