Community Experiential Learning Center

The Community Experiential Learning Center (CELC) is the Program in Occupational Therapy’s new education center.

The CELC allows faculty, students, community members and researchers to share real situations, real experiences, and new space to actively engage in the health and well-being of community residents in St. Louis. Classes and learning take place through active engagement with the community, moving beyond four walls and orchestrated opportunities. Engagement in the CELC by students, faculty and community members fosters collaborative innovation to solve the community’s pressing needs.

Our mission is to use state-of-the-art technology and community partnerships to provide innovative active-learning opportunities that maximize student clinical competency, advance educator growth and promote community health. Five core pillars guide the development of our community engagement including trauma-informed care; justice, diversity, equity and inclusion; promotion of civic responsibility; climate justice and evidence-based practice.

The CELC space features a 1,587-square-foot great room with modular furniture that can be rearranged as needed to accommodate a variety of curricular activities and a 247-square-foot conference room for meetings, collaborations, training and presentations. Seven breakout rooms of varying sizes surround the great room to support small group work, participant assessments and case-based learning. The highlight of the design is the fully accessible kitchen that includes ADA-compliant countertops and appliances. The kitchen will support educational, clinical and research activities related to activity, participation and function.


Duana Russell-Thomas, OTD, OTR/L (left),  is the CELC's director. In this role, she provides leadership, community outreach, clinical service, program development and instruction. Mario Millsap, MSOT, OTR/L (right), is the CELC's coordinator and occupational therapist. He has clinical experience in pediatrics, community-based mental health, acute care and home health.

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Occupational therapy lends itself to outreach with community partners to develop sustainable programs designed to meet the needs of all members of a community. In our current environment, the needs of our community are varied and many. We value the relationships we have with our community partners and work together to develop ways to improve people's health.

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The CELC provides innovative, active learning opportunities to maximize student clinical competency. VALT is the state-of-the art technology that allows curricular activities to be live streamed to all CELC spaces and the main OT Auditorium.

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The CELC is proud to sponsor events that promote community health. By participating in these events, students interact directly with various populations while supporting people in the community.

Coming soon