University News

Bear Paw Center Looks to Expand Services to WNE and Greater Springfield Community

Published: March 17, 2023 | Categories: All News, Pharmacy and Health Sciences
ODT students working with community members

Western New England University's student-run pro bono OT Center, the Bear Paw Center, has announced plans to expand its services to pediatric clients in the Greater Springfield community beginning this summer. The center, which opened in the fall of 2022, has been providing occupational therapy services to adult students, staff, and faculty members at WNE, as well as local community members.

The Bear Paw (Bringing Equity Accessibility and Rehabilitation to People Achieving Wellness) Center is staffed by Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) students and is supervised by licensed occupational therapists.

The Bear Paw Center's mission is to partner with the community to reduce health inequities and disparities by providing services to those most in need while simultaneously providing our students with experiences that will help them become well-rounded OTs and healthcare leaders.

The clinic offers comprehensive evaluation, intervention, and consultation services for individuals with various medical conditions, developmental disabilities, and mental health needs.

According to Dr. Brittany Adams, the Chair and Program Director of the Department of Occupational Therapy, the center has received overwhelming support from the community during its first six months. "The Bear Paw Center has been a great resource for the WNE community and for our local community members. It has provided them with access to high-quality occupational therapy services at no cost and it all takes place right here on campus," said Dr. Adams.

All WNE OTD students participate in hands-on experiences across no fewer than seven different practice settings. This is in addition to simulated online learning experiences and gaining clinical experience with real clients through the Bear Paw Center. The WNE OTD curriculum provides students ample opportunities to become competent, well-rounded practitioners.

The Bear Paw Center is now looking to expand its reach within — and even beyond the Greater Springfield community. "We are excited to offer our services to those in need from the broader community," said Emily Labrie, an OTD student who works at the clinic. "Our goal is to provide affordable and accessible occupational therapy services to individuals who need it the most while gaining the experience we need in practical setting."

The clinic is currently in the process of  identifying potential community partners and developing a plan to offer services to underserved and under or uninsured populations. "We are committed to promoting health and wellness in our community," said Dr. Adams. "Our students are passionate about occupational therapy, and we are proud to support them in their efforts to make a positive impact."

For more information about the Bear Paw Center or to schedule an appointment, please contact the clinic at (413) 206-9501, by email at or visit the website at