Danielle Caissie Supports Families and Introduces New Programming through Internship with Opal Family Services
Danielle Caissie was able to combine her passion for working with individuals with intellectual disabilities and her background in Psychology through an internship at Opal Family Services.
The fourth-year student from Minto, NB, has been volunteering with the organization—which is dedicated to offering support services to families who have a dependent with a disability—for over two years.
The internship provided an opportunity for her to get involved in a new way.
“Opal is an amazing organization and the work they do is really important to the families in our community,” Caissie said. “I’ve been exposed to what these families need and what they want. Hearing their voices and the kind of services that are most important to them has been really valuable.”
Opal offers groups for adults and youth, but they didn’t have a program tailored to pre-school aged kids. Caissie designed, coordinated, and ran a tot and parent group that offered support for parents and a play group for kids.
“There were a couple of newcomers that joined Opal specifically for my group. They had a new diagnosis, so they weren’t familiar with the services in the area,” Caissie said. “That’s something I’m really proud of.”
Caissie worked closely with Opal’s Executive Director, Erica Young, but was also given the freedom and support to use her knowledge and skills to run the parents and tots program. This allowed her to further develop her accountability and empathy.
“I’ve been able to improve my ability to relate to these people who have very different life experiences than I do and form meaningful connections with them,” she said.
Caissie, who will graduate with an honours in Psychology, was recently accepted to a post-graduate clinical psychology program. Her experience at Opal is something she will carry with her as she begins this next chapter.
“My goal is to work with people who have intellectual disabilities and their parents, so it’s been really valuable to be able to do that while I’m in school. Seeing what challenges the parents are facing and what these kids and families really need will give me added knowledge for my research and clinical practice.”