Susan Bazyk, professor of occupational therapy at Cleveland State University, has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Emerging and Innovative Practice Award by the American Occupational Therapy Association. The honor recognizes occupational therapy practitioners who have developed innovative or non-traditional practices to achieve significant client outcomes for underserved populations. Bazyk was recognized for innovative leadership in promoting children's mental health through her work to advance occupational therapy's distinct value in addressing the needs of children and youth served in diverse practice settings including schools, clinics, and the community.
“Susan Bazyk is a national leader in transforming how we address the mental and emotional needs of America’s school children, including ensuring that schools have the technical and professional resources necessary to best meet the needs of their populations,” says Meredith Bond, Dean of the College of Science and Health Professions at CSU. “I am extraordinarily pleased that she is receiving this prestigious recognition for her efforts and congratulate her on this tremendous accomplishment.”
Susan Bazyk has been an occupational therapist for over 35 years and has taught at CSU since 1984 primarily in the area of pediatric practice. Bazyk's research, publications, presentations, and grass-roots work with occupational therapy practitioners demonstrate exemplary innovation and leadership in addressing the mental health needs of children and youth in community and school settings.
Since 2004, she has provided the Occupational Therapy Groups for HOPE (Healthy Occupations for Positive Emotions) as a service learning initiative to low income urban youth attending the after-school program at Friendly Inn Settlement House. In addition, as editor of an AOTA book entitled, Mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention with children and youth: A guiding framework for occupational therapy (2011), Bazyk has helped occupational therapists apply a public health approach to mental health.
But, the most significant example of innovative leadership is Bazyk’s work as project director of Every Moment Counts: Promoting Mental Health Throughout the Day. This multi-pronged mental health promotion initiative, originally funded by the Ohio Department of Education for $720,000, has strategically built capacity of OT practitioners throughout Ohio and nationally to articulate and address the mental health needs of children and youth. Along with her team, Bazyk has developed, implemented, and evaluated activity-based model programs for promoting mental health throughout the day in classroom, cafeteria, recess, and after-school settings. She fosters wide-spread implementation by sharing materials on the website she developed - www.everymomentcounts.org.
“I would like to thank AOTA for this honor and hope that this recognition continues to shine the spotlight on the growing importance of promoting positive mental health in all schools across the nation,” Bazyk says.
Bazyk has also been effective in fostering leadership in the OT practitioners she works with. Since 2010, her team has presented over 50 platform presentations at the local, state, and national levels. Furthermore, interest in building capacity of OT practitioners to address children's mental health continues to grow throughout the U.S. Currently, Bazyk is the project director of a New Hampshire Department of Education funded initiative in collaboration with the New Hampshire Occupational Therapy Association to build capacity for the state’s OTs to address the mental health needs of children in school settings (2016-2017).