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Students celebrate physical therapy profession through service

October is National Physical Therapy Month, and Pennsylvania College of Technology’s physical therapist assistant program has been celebrating through service.

As part of UPMC’s first Community Block Party, the students were invited to provide family-friendly activities to promote health and wellness.

“Our students were excited to say ‘Yes’ to this event,” said Christine A. Tilburg, clinical director of the college’s physical therapist assistant program. “They created two obstacle courses incorporating concepts they learned thus far in the PTA curriculum. One course was geared toward children, the other toward adults and children.”

Penn College’s physical therapist assistant program encourages career seekers to “Choose PT” as part of their National Physical Therapy Month celebration.
Pennsylvania College of Technology’s physical therapist assistant program encourages career seekers to “Choose PT” as part of their National Physical Therapy Month celebration. The program also celebrated through service-learning: developing activities for UPMC’s recent community block party and joining volunteers for a Project Linus Make a Blanket Day.

“The event was incredibly popular, as our students were busy the entire time with a constant flow of children and adults from the community,” Tilburg added. “I believe our students had just as much fun as the participants. It is hoped that this project will be sustainable each year for our students.”

As part of their curriculum, physical therapist assistant students are required to complete a service-learning project, Tilburg explained.

“The purpose of this project is to teach our students altruism and the importance of giving back to the community,” she said. “It starts as a PTA student and extends throughout one’s career and life. It has been several years since we have been able to plan a face-to-face project, so the students were very excited to ‘get back out there again.’”

The next day, Physical Therapist Assistant Club members participated in Make a Blanket Day, hosted by Project Linus Central Susquehanna Valley.

As part of a group of 32 volunteers, the students helped to construct cozy fleece blankets. Project Linus provides handmade blankets to hospitals and other centers to provide warmth to children who are ill or need comfort. The Penn College crew made six blankets in three hours.

“Being in the field we are in, we are like-minded students and enjoy helping people,” said club President Lauren Bennett, of Bloomsburg. “When we heard about this opportunity, a bunch of us decided to volunteer.”

“It wasn’t about (giving our) Saturday morning,” she said. “It was the warmth and sense of security within those blankets that were bound for kids in need. Spending that day getting to know the others that have been volunteering for years, and hearing stories about the impact this drive has had was heartwarming and gratifying.”

“One of our fellow classmates who participated that day, Selena A. Martinez (of Williamsport), was a recipient of a Project Linus blanket when she was hospitalized as a kid,” Bennett added. “So, to her, it was not only a community giveback, but a personal one.”

National Physical Therapy Month is a project of the American Physical Therapy Association. This year’s focus is on the importance of physical activity and the role of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in helping people get moving.

Penn College offers an associate degree in physical therapist assistant. Hands-on learning takes place in a well-equipped, on-campus laboratory where students practice skills and interventions. In addition, each student completes three clinical education experiences, available with more than 65 diverse organizations offering opportunities in inpatient, outpatient, long-term and specialty care. To learn more, call 570-320-4439.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

– Photos by Victoria Hurwitz, program director; and Christine A. Tilburg, clinical director


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