top of page
Dr. Heather Panczykowski

Dr. Heather Panczykowski is currently an Assistant Professor at East Carolina University and has taught in higher education for more than 20 years. She has a variety of clinical experience, starting with full-time employment as an occupational therapist for over 10 years in pediatrics prior to entering academia. Following, she was active in private practice and has worked in early intervention, school-based practice, developmental disabilities, home health, in-patient rehabilitation, and skilled nursing facilities. Her latest private practice endeavor includes the use of horses in occupational therapy interventions. Click here for more information

The Team Behind the Screen

Graduate and undergraduate students at East Carolina University that are listed below worked together with Dr. Heather Panczykowski in the Department of Occupational Therapy to generate a comprehensive and locally inspired resource page. This website was created to assist families of children with special needs, their friends, and their allies. This toolbox stemmed a the pilot study conducted in partnership with Sanctuary Farm LLC. and Moonbeams and Miracles Therapeutic Horsemanship Center in Greenville, NC. The study explored the impact of parent support group, focused on learning and practicing self-care strategies, on reducing stress and anxiety and increasing resilience in parents. What made this study unique was the incorporation of the horse in the sessions as a teacher and partner in the process. This work will continue with the objective of developing resources to assist parents to help themselves and their families!

Kristin Heyward 

A recent graduate from East Carolina University’s Occupational Therapy program, Kristin is now an NBCOT© certified occupational therapist and licensed in the state of North Carolina. Kristin is passionate about working with both the young and young at heart to promote independence, accessibility, and quality of life. During Kristin’s time working on this project, she enjoyed getting to know and learning from the families participating in the weekly parent support group sessions.

Teresa Hupp

Undergrad Research Student


A sophomore Nursing major in the Honors College at East Carolina University. Teresa's favorite part about working on this project is the positive impact this work is having on families' lives. She is passionate about helping improve the wellbeing of others. 

Peyton Thomas

Undergrad Research Student

A sophomore Social Work major in the Honors College at East Carolina University. Peyton's favorite part of the project was seeing how one person's idea can start a chain reaction of real change in other's lives. She's passionate about access to mental health services in rural areas.

Kristina Whitley

Undergrad Research Student


A junior History Education major in the Honors College at East Carolina University. Kristina is passionate about advocating for populations in rural areas of the state who are underrepresented. She desires to build mutually beneficial, community-based relationships.

bottom of page