Cayuga OTA Students  Stride to Raise Down Syndrome Awareness

Members of Cayuga Community College’s Student Occupational Therapy Assistant Club participated in the 2019 Buddy Walk to help raise Down syndrome awareness and support Gigi’s Playhouse.

Members of Cayuga Community College’s Student Occupational Therapy Assistant (SOTA) Club helped raise awareness this week when they participated in the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk.

Held at Long Branch Park in Liverpool on Sept. 29, the 2019 Buddy Walk saw droves of people come together to raise Down syndrome awareness and support Gigi’s Playhouse, an international organization that provides programs for people with Down syndrome. Gigi’s Playhouse has more than 40 locations in the United States and Mexico, including a location in Cicero, and annually serves more than 30,000 people.

Right in the thick of Sunday’s crowd at the Buddy Walk was Cayuga’s SOTA Club, doing their part to raise awareness.

“This is such a great cause, and one that we were familiar with because Gigi’s Playhouse was one of the field work options for students in our Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Cayuga. So we definitely had an appreciation for their role in the region and the work that they do, which really made us want to participate in the Buddy Walk,” said SOTA Club President Kristin Taylor.

The SOTA Club is starting its second year at Cayuga, and this week’s event was the first time club members had participated in the Buddy Walk. Club Vice President Karlee Bauer-Lafleur said one of the group’s goals is to be involved in the community, and to help support causes and people they would work with in the field of occupational therapy.

“As occupational therapy assistants, we would work closely with people with Down syndrome. Our focus is helping people live their lives to the fullest extent possible, and focusing on what’s important for them, what’s obstructing their lives and how we can help them get past that obstacle,” said Bauer-Lafleur. “That focus on helping people is a big reason that we want to be involved in community events and why we joined the Buddy Walk.”

Bauer-Lafleur said the club is hoping to participate in other events raising awareness about muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.

The important part is for the club and its members to get involved, she said.

“There’s so much that we can do in terms of occupational therapy, but also just raising awareness about these causes in our community,” said Bauer-Lafleur. “This was our first step, and we’re hoping there will be some other opportunities in the near future.”

For more information about Gigi’s Playhouse, visit For more information about Cayuga’s Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, visit


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