Sandra Houle, a PhD student in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Ottawa recently received a Dean’s Award of Excellence (Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa). This award recognizes academic excellence, along with student leadership, and community engagement. Sandra founded and has been leading the Art & Play group at uO for two years. She has been responsible for the program development, acquiring of funding, marketing, procuring of supplies, and execution. She has successfully gathered over 200 graduate students to engage in meaningful creative activities to benefit their well-being. Another Ph.D. student in Rehabilitation stated that this group represented his first opportunity to participate in an in-person university gathering since moving to Canada for his studies. The success of Art & Play speaks to Sandra’s initiative, leadership skills, resourcefulness, and perseverance. Furthermore, Sandra has worked to enhance the sustainability and knowledge transfer of this program by engaging in a pilot research study to qualitatively explore the experiences of graduate students who have participated in Art and Play and share this work at multiple interdisciplinary conferences in the past year. These include the 2023 Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Conference, the 2023 Collaborating Across Borders VIII Hope and Trust in Health and Social Care Conference, and the 2023 Canadian Association for the Health Humanities Creating Space Conference.

This recognition of Sandra’s efforts is very well-deserved ~ congratulations, Sandra!