This year the service-learning module, Community Engagement, developed a campaign called Build-A-Box. The Build-a-Box campaign was designed and developed with third year undergraduate occupational therapy students. This project focuses on mitigating some of the impacts of social distancing and cocooning on vulnerable members of the community.  

The impacts of COVID-19 have been far greater than ever anticipated. Entire countries have been on lockdown with far reaching economic, physical, emotional and psychological consequences. Although it is difficult to escape the impact there have been people in our societies that have been worse impacted than others. Confinement and social distancing have been used as a measure of reducing the rate of infection in many countries worldwide. The social, domestic, and psychological consequences of this distancing is of yet unknown. More importantly we need to understand how we might better support those in our society who may be worse impacted by the restrictions 

Sample box

We have developed a service-learning project, called Build-a-Box, that links undergraduate occupational therapy students with various “high-risk” community groups. Using evidence-based practice and the best available literature, students will design custom-made boxes for the most vulnerable people in our society who are facing the worst of the COVID restrictions. The items in the box have been chosen in conjunction with community partners and focus on reducing the negative effects of confinement and social distancing for each of the individual groups.  

Seven student groups (4-5 students in each group) have created and presented a ‘prototype’ of a box intended for a specific vulnerable community group. Items will focus on group-specific activities or pursuits that are limited as a result of the pandemic. Students are now at the point where they will receive feedback from the community partners and service-users. The next step is to adapt based on the feedback, scale up and deliver more boxes to community partners/service-users. This stage of the project will happen in April 2021. Because of the additional strain this year on community organisation, student groups will be mindful of this in their interactions with the groups and the commitment from the partners will be kept to a minimum. The project is supported by funding from the CKI at NUI Galway and the boxes have been provided by Carabay Packaging 

Build a box sample 2