Since 2012 Chapman’s Doctorate Physical Therapy (DPT) students have volunteered for the Special Olympics. This year faculty member Dr. Sara Gilliland and close to 40 DPT students participated in and helped out with the Special Olympics November 12th and 13th.
The DPT students worked with the FUNfitness testing as part of the Health Athletes Program. If you’re interested in learning more about the Healthy Athletes Program you can take a look at their website. FUNfitness testing is a comprehensive fitness assessment that looks at strength, flexibility, balance and cardiovascular levels for the athletes. For a more detailed description of the FUNfitness testing the Special Olympics has a special page on their website as well.
The DPT students would conduct the assessments as well as support and encourage the athletes through the process. The FUNfitness testing assessments are similar to the screen and testing procedures the DPT students learn in their classes in the program, so conducting the testing with the athletes gave the students an opportunity to practice their skills with participants of a wide variety of physical and mental abilities.
When asking Dr. Gilliland what, in her opinion, was some of the favorite parts about volunteering for the Special Olympics, she commented that students “enjoy the opportunity to use the skills they are learning in the classroom to help the athletes and they enjoy the feeling of using their skills to give back to the community.”
DPT students were incredibly moved by volunteering at the Special Olympics, including first time volunteer and first year DPT student Daniela Cavallo, “It was truly a rewarding experience to help athletes while learning and practicing as a physical therapy student. I volunteered because I truly enjoy making a difference in people’s lives.”
Other students, such as 4th semester student Nina Lee, have volunteered several times and enjoys it each year, “This is my second time volunteering for the Special Olympics and I really enjoy being able to interact with the healthy athletes and getting hands on experience. I also enjoy meeting new people there!”
As students get closer to graduation, volunteering for the Special Olympics has inspired students to continue volunteering throughout their career. Third year student Kelly Isaacs says, “I am so grateful to have been a part of the Special Olympics FUNfitness throughout my time at Chapman and my service will continue well past graduation.”
There are several reasons that DPT students continue to volunteer at the Special Olympics every year, with the primary focus being giving back to the community. Chapman is proud to have DPT students who are so dedicated to volunteering in the community.