Two brothers, who are each occupational therapy assistant students at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences, recently collected donations of valuable disc golf equipment to benefit the mental and physical health of inpatients at Atrium Health Behavioral Health Davidson.

News, Your Health | one month ago

Occupational Therapy Students Connect with Patients Through Disc Golf

Two brothers, who are each occupational therapy assistant students at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences, recently collected donations of valuable disc golf equipment to benefit the mental and physical health of inpatients at Atrium Health Behavioral Health Davidson. Learn how the greater Charlotte area disc golf community stepped up to donate the equipment and how the brothers worked with their fieldwork educator to introduce patients to disc golf.

 

Patients at Atrium Health Behavioral Health Davidson are now enjoying the physical, mental and social benefits of disc golf thanks to the efforts of two brothers, each graduating occupational therapy assistant students from Cabarrus College of Health Sciences.

Caleb and Joshua Ritchie, with help from their fieldwork educator, Christa Gallie-Weiss, occupational therapist at Atrium Health Behavioral Health Davidson, recently obtained donations of valuable disc golf equipment to benefit the mental and physical health of the inpatients at the health care facility.

It started when Caleb’s innovative approach to patient care pushed him to reach out to the Charlotte area disc golf community for ideas on how he could potentially buy some inexpensive equipment for patient use. In less than 10 minutes, one of his own disc golf sponsors pledged to donate two brand new baskets and 25 new putters. Their donation value totaled over $700.

“The disc golf community is a beast that people outside don’t necessarily understand,” Caleb said. “They protect their own and support through what seems like endless charity, given the right cause.”

Caleb and Joshua have been playing disc golf professionally for several years, after first being introduced to the sport during while studying at Appalachian State University. Through his years of playing, Caleb said the most prevalent reason why people played was as an escape from the stressors of the day. 

“Even people who did compete professionally would use disc golf as a therapeutic activity to free their minds from clutter,” he said. “In 2020, when COVID-19 first came and lockdown happened, disc golf blew up in popularity with people using it as a coping strategy to be able to feel ‘normal’ and get outside.”

So, he decided to bring disc golf to Behavioral Health Davidson, where it has thrived.

The donated equipment arrived on Caleb’s last day of fieldwork. However, when his brother, Joshua, started his fieldwork rotation at Behavioral Health Davidson the following week, he developed the therapeutic occupational therapy program that is now in place. They play disc golf with patients at least once per week. 

“Connecting with patients in disc golf has been amazing. After we learn how to play it, we go through what we’re feeling, what we’re thinking and really break it down,” Joshua said. “It makes the things that we teach them in group where we’re just sitting, we put it into practice in a safe environment where they can go ‘Oh wow, this works.’”

“Instead of dealing with all the things that are going on in their (patients’) lives, we’re just dealing with disc golf,” said Gallie-Weiss. “It’s a safe space to explore some of those feelings, those thoughts and then just be able to extrapolate that and take it off a disc golf course and into life.” 

Thank you, Caleb and Josh for your commitment to our community and for your generosity.  We are truly all in this together as one team!