The students and faculty of the PTA program at Tyler Junior College, in Tyler, Texas, are serious about movement. How serious? Serious enough to collect 14 pairs of crutches, 10 wheelchairs, eight walkers, and a bin of assistive devices, all to be donated to an international charity organization that rehabs the equipment and provides them to people in need around the world.
That's the kind of commitment to service that earns you the winner's title in APTA's "Get Caught Doing Good" contest held as part of the Global PT Day of Service on Oct. 10. The 30 PTA students and two faculty members managed to work creatively through pandemic restrictions and challenges to take the honor and claim the $500 donation made by APTA to the charity of their choice.
That charity was Wheels for the World, the same program that received the mobility devices collected by the Tyler team. The program is part of Joni and Friends, a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the disability community. The equipment donated to Wheels for the World will be restored to working order by inmates in correctional facilities before being distributed to individuals in need around the world.
"I'm thankful that Wheels for the World gave us the opportunity to engage with our local community and meet a global need while raising awareness for the voices that often go unheard," said Robert Van Meter, SPT, a Tyler PTA student who participated in the effort. "It was very encouraging to see so many people gladly give assistive devices to a cause that some had even been personally impacted by. Their generosity was inspirational."
Tyler faculty member Amanda Storer, PTA, explained that the idea for the collection was born out of the limitations imposed by the pandemic, which required the students to come up with an idea that involved their community in providing assistive devices to the charity. The community's enthusiastic response, she said, helped reinforce the Tyler students' dedication to service.
"One of my favorite things about being an educator is also being an advocate for the profession and serving in my community with the students," Storer said. "I love being able to represent the profession of physical therapy and be an example to my students. I hope they will continue the attitude of service demonstrated even after they graduate."