Brooklyn Belt traveled 1,566 miles from home to make a big difference in Big Sky country during the final summer break of her undergraduate education at Arkansas Tech University.
The Altus native is interning in Helena, Mont., at Shodair Children's Hospital, a non-profit health care facility that provides psychiatric treatment for children and adolescents and comprehensive genetic services for people of all ages.
"When looking for an internship, I was interested in working with individuals in the psychiatric field and for an opportunity to explore another state," said Belt. "I weighed the pros and cons of each internship site that accepted me and thought that this one would be the best fit. Internships are such an integral part of the learning experience for a student because they allow us to apply what we have spent years learning in the classroom to real-life situations."
Belt is majoring in recreation and parks administration with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation and a minor in psychology. She is on pace to earn her Bachelor of Science degree from ATU in December 2019.
Her daily internship tasks include planning activities that have therapeutic benefits, maintaining patient documentation and attending meetings.
Belt believes that ATU classes such as Recreation Programming and Abnormal Psychology have helped her design inclusive activities for patients.
"Arkansas Tech has done a wonderful job in offering a well-rounded education that I can use in almost all aspects of life," said Belt.
The wide open spaces of Montana and the work environment at Shodair Children's Hospital have proven to be a good fit for Belt. She hopes to return there in a full-time role as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist following her graduation from ATU.
"The highlight of my internship was when a patient who is often lethargic and refused to go to the recreational therapy groups started to participate and even volunteer to do activities," said Belt. "Watching the growth of these patients is definitely the most rewarding part. I have learned so much from this experience…how to interact with other health care professionals such as the doctors, other therapists and mental health technicians. I have also learned how to offer a therapeutic environment for the patients by assuring that the space is safe for all aspects of health --- emotional, physical, psychological, social and spiritual."