“This I Believe” Assignment

Kelly Reinkemeyer is a 2nd year Occupational Therapy Student at Maryville University.  As part of her Occupational Therapy Theory course, Kelly was asked to develop a “This I Believe” essay based on the international project engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives (www.thisibelieve.org ). The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.

Kelly’s instructor, Ashlyn Cunningham, had the students develop an essay based on their belief of the power of occupation and occupational therapy.  Kelly’s essay exemplifies the simple, yet powerful nature of occupation and how it promotes imagination, creativity and engagement.

Below is Kelly’s essay:

I Believe in Magical Paint

by Kelly Reinkemeyer

Water itself is not magical. It holds no mind-blowing effects that scientists have not yet uncovered, nor is it made up of unexplained, supernatural components.  But when mixed in a certain empty bucket of mine, something mysterious happens- water becomes truly magical.

One of my favorite summertime occupations is babysitting.  However, coming up with new and exciting activities can be difficult, especially when I am competing with Wii, Xbox, and other leading electronic fads.  I realized that although the children I babysat were engaging in the activity of playing video games, they were not fully expressing their identity.  I wanted to come up with something in which they could benefit from and express themselves, so when I invented magical paint a couple summers back, not even Nintendo stood a chance. 

My first subjects were a six year old boy and a four year old girl.  I noticed it began getting a little too convenient to pop in a DVD or let them stare mindlessly at the television while playing video games or watching cartoons.  As a future occupational therapist, I wanted to actively participate in an activity with them to which they could associate significance and flourish in their own creativity. But what could I introduce to these children that they did not already have?  Magical paint. 

I am sure I am not the sole inventor of magical paint, so I cannot take all the credit; nonetheless, it was a unique, inexpensive twist on an old concept.  It was as simple as decorating an empty bucket and adding water, yet the outcome was remarkable to say the least.  I had finally found a way to involve the kids in a purposeful activity in which they enjoyed greatly. 

We painted their sidewalk all summer long.  As the kids watched one section fade away in the summer heat and “miraculously” disappear, we would simply paint something new.  We painted with sponges, old paint brushes, and anything else we found around the house.  Countless masterpieces, hopscotch games, and even portraits were created that summer.  The possibilities of what to paint, as well as the children’s imagination, seemed endless. 

Magical paint led to numerous other entertaining outdoor activities. Without that idea, I am afraid the kids would not have showed as much interest in playing outside; the summer would have been wasted away by senseless video games.

Although the children inevitably wised up and unfortunately figured out that my concoction was not exactly as “magical” as I had first described, it still is a neat way to enjoy the outdoors and express ingenuity.  I continue to use this idea throughout my babysitting years, and hope to share it with my future clients and even my own children.  It reflects my passion for outdoor recreation and the satisfaction I get as I see children having fun while being involved in an active, meaningful event.

I believe in originality, cleverness, spontaneity, engagement in occupation, and laughter.  I believe in magical paint.