URSP Highlights: Bethany Larson
My name is Bethany Larson and I am a junior in the Social Work program at George Mason University. My grant project focus is exploring the use of Polaroid photography as a tool for empowerment for dementia residents in a long-term care setting. Some outcomes I hope to see are a positive association for photography as a creative outlet and art therapy method tool, a positive emotional response for the photography sessions from the residents, and possibly seeing a need for a creative art requirement in residents personalize care plans. I was interested in the project after being approached my mentor, Dr. Emily Ihara. She saw value in my extensive art background and wanted to know if I was interested in working with the older population. I accepted the challenge and chose to intern at Birmingham Green (BG) for one of my social work classes to get more experience with the older population. I enjoyed working with the adults at BG; I asked the one of the social workers if she would be interested in supervising my project this semester, and she agreed. This project relates to my long-term goals of being comfortable with conducting research, building up my resume before I graduate with different experiences, and separating myself from the crowd by getting out of my comfort zone. On a weekly basis I meet with mentor every Monday night after school, I am regularly reviewing the literature on related topics, and I am regularly corresponding with the administration at Birmingham Green. One thing I discovered this week was the IRB (Institutional Review Board) approved my project! IRB is the human subjects review board that requires certain documents to make sure I will not be harming the vulnerable population involved with my project. This approval allows me to move forward and start the process of getting consent from residents to participate at BG! This project has been and continues to be a valuable learning process!