Special Olympics FUNfitness logo
On November 14, nearly 30 Doctor of Physical Therapy students from Chapman University and Crean College of Health & Behavioral Sciences gave their time to volunteer with the
program at the
Special Olympics Southern California
2015 Fall Games.

Several second and third year students returned as volunteers and helped to guide the newer students through the process. Second year student Kristin Seid stated of her experience,

“The Special Olympics and FUNfitness are wonderful ways to support physical fitness and the community. Chapman’s many years of involvement has fostered camaraderie and service. I really enjoyed seeing the new class of 2018 get involved!”

The FUNfitness program is part of the larger Healthy Athletes screenings that take place at each of the Special Olympics’ events. At FUNfitness, physical therapists and physical therapy students complete fitness assessments on Special Olympics athletes. These assessments include measures of strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular fitness. In
Crean College students help out with the Special Olympics Fall Games
addition the FUNfitness volunteers have the opportunity to educate the athletes (along with parents and coaches) on healthy fitness activities to include during their training and everyday life. A key focus is on addressing functional limitations to prevent injuries during the athletes’ training and competition.

Chapman University DPT
students from each class year participated this fall, alongside faculty member
Dr. Sara Gilliland
. For the first-year students, this was their first hands-on experience working with clients, providing an exceptionally unique opportunity to learn useful skillsets. The students had the opportunity to practice some of their clinical assessment skills and explore ways of communicating with athletes with diverse abilities. The students reported being noticeably impressed with the level of enthusiasm and commitment from the athletes they worked with.

Giving back to the community
was especially enriching to the students. Kristen Witchey, a first-year student, explained “Helping these athletes improve their strength, flexibility, and endurance and thus contributing to their overall success, was an extremely rewarding experience and I am excited to help at the Summer Games!”

First-year DPT students appreciated the opportunity to get outside of the classroom and participate in the real work of physical therapy. As Brittany Boesel described, “It was so rewarding to be able to contribute to these athletes’ fitness evaluation and education. I thought it was a fantastic learning experience for us first semesters. I can’t wait to volunteer with the Summer Games and the following Fall Games after I have had more experience in my PT screening skills!”

Crean College students help out with the Special Olympics Fall Games
Brittany Revell, a first-year student, enjoyed the opportunity to put her sign language skills to work as she completed assessments on athletes who are deaf. Third year students took part in utilizing their training at Chapman thus far, including Dylan Mascarenas who found that he was able to apply principles he had learned in some of his more advanced PT courses.

The FUNfitness clinical coordinators and all of the participating athletes, parents, and coaches appreciated the individualized attention and enthusiasm that Crean College’s DPT students brought to the FUNfitness program. You can see more highlights from the Fall Games

Stayed tuned as
Crean College
continues our volunteering commitment when DPT students, faculty and alumni return to FUNfitness and the Special Olympics
Southern California Summer Games
in June 2016.

Crean College students help out with the Special Olympics Fall Games

Contributed by
Dr. Sara Gilliland
and edited by Molly Fitzpatrick.