Serving Your Community as a Student
3 minute read
October is one of my favorite months. It contains Halloween, which is one of my favorite holidays, and it holds a cultural significance to me since it is Filipino American History Month. But since I've been involved in the physical therapy profession, October has taken on even further significance to me. It's not only National Physical Therapy Month, it's also the month in which we hold the annual global Physical Therapy Day of Service (PTDOS).
This year, October 12, 2019, marks the fifth year of PTDOS.
It can be difficult to see how much impact you have as a student since most of your time is spent in lectures, studying, or practicing clinical skills. PTDOS is an opportunity for students to help drive our profession forward by giving back to our communities. Since its inception in 2015, students remain a major driving force for its growth.
I've been a core team member of PTDOS since 2017, and the most frequent question I get is "What kind of volunteer event should my program do?"
I love hearing that question!
When it comes to PTDOS there is almost no limit to what you can do. I'm always inspired when I search the #PTDOS hashtag because you see the wide variety of projects being performed across the world. We've seen students get involved in so many different ways, such as building adaptive tricycles, participating in beach cleanups, and working with the Special Olympics. What matters most about all of these projects is that students do them together and with their community.
Need some inspiration on getting started with a project for your program? Here is what some past PTDOS participants said:
Emerson Barthelemy - Leogane, Haiti
Last year students from the Faculté des Sciences de Rehabilitation de Léogane graduation class organized a pro bono clinic to evaluate and treat people in Leogane (town next to Port au Prince). A professor and 17 students volunteered to treat patients and helped make the pro bono clinic possible.
Tasks included securing a location for the clinic, gathering essential tools and materials to treat patients, and spreading awareness of our project. They were able to spend the day treating patients using their skills as physical therapy students while giving back to their community!
Alicia Canton - Miami, Florida
My PTDOS experience began in 2017 as a first-year student at the University of Miami. One of my classmates recruited close to 20 students to volunteer with Debris Free Oceans in Miami, Florida, to help clean up the developing industrial art deco district, now known as Wynwood.
My classmates and I picked up trash throughout Wynwood, with a goal to prevent it from making its way to our beautiful oceans.
On the Saturday of PTDOS, we rolled up our sleeves and armed ourselves with gloves and trash bags. Astonished by the amount of trash we found we walked around and tirelessly filled our bags. We collected over 200 pounds of trash in just 1 hour. Residents of Wynwood tooted their horns in gratitude, and 1 man even pulled his truck over and thanked us for what we were doing. We found it so special to be able to help the environment and to have an impact on the local community.
Raechelle Robles - Dallas, Texas
Last year, physical therapy students from Texas Woman's University in Dallas joined forces with therapists from Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation to create welcome home baskets for those who are being rehomed after experiencing homeless.
Volunteers helped put together baskets with household items and handwritten personalized notes.
The baskets were provided by The Bridge North Texas. All donations came from local stores in the area, including Ikea, Trader Joe's, and Sur La Table.
In total, we made 50 baskets filled with lots of goodies to get these folks started on this new chapter in their lives.
Getting involved with PTDOS as a student is easy and a great way to connect your program with your local community! If you want to plan a project you can sign up as a PTDOS ambassador, or if you want to look for a local project that is already being planned you can find one on our Project Map. As long as you serve on October 12 or within a week before or after, we'll count your project toward the PTDOS total!
We hope to see and hear about the amazing stories that come from this year's PTDOS. Be sure to use the hashtag #PTDOS when posting pictures and stories about your projects and events!
Matt Downey, PT, DPT, is a practicing clinician in California and serves as the Assistant Director, PT Day of Service. You can connect with Matt on Twitter at @MattyLMNOP and PTDOS at @ptdayofservice.