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The story of physical therapy is a story of resilience, adaptability, and community.

On Jan. 15, APTA celebrated its founding a century ago with virtual events that proved those values are as important today as they were in 1921. The day was a testament to a profession and an organization that simply refuses to allow circumstance to get in the way of its transformative vision.

Truly a Group Effort Thanks to APTA Components

The official APTA Founders’ Day Celebration, hosted by Jason Bellamy, APTA's senior vice president of member experience, included brief interviews with association leaders, but the content that stole the show was a series of 65 short videos from APTA’s chapters, sections, academies, and other groups wishing APTA a happy birthday – many of them recorded in settings that were evocative of the component's location or milestones in the association’s history.

The leaders interviewed during the evening saw clear connections between the profession's response to current events and the qualities that helped give birth to the association 100 years ago.

"We were born out of wartime. We grew through the polio epidemic, and here we are in a pandemic," said APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD. "Survivorship is in our roots — and not just surviving but thriving is what we do every day."

APTA Chief Executive Officer Justin Moore, PT, DPT, narrowed it down to one word: "adaptability." According to Moore, that is the quality that allowed the association to quickly pivot to a virtual format for the upcoming APTA Combined Sections Meeting and what is helping APTA move into its next century.

"Adaptability is a hallmark of this profession," Moore said. "We have been a profession that has stood our ground when presented with a challenge."

The APTA Centennial Mosaic: An Opportunity To Get In on the Celebration

Launched during the Founders' Day celebration was APTA’s centennial mosaic project, which allows members of the APTA community to upload a photo.

Each picture in the interactive mosaic is searchable and clickable — when you bring it up, it shows not only the photo uploaded, but the poster's response to one of three prompts: "I love APTA because," "In our second century, I aspire to," or "My physical therapy hero is." And, there are links to allow for easy sharing of your favorite photos via social media.

Check it out, play around on it, then add your photo!

"Tip of the Spear": APTA Centennial Center Ribbon-Cutting

Founders’ Day festivities began Friday morning with the symbolic opening of the association’s new headquarters, APTA Centennial Center, a seven-story building in what's now known as National Landing, an up-and-coming Alexandria, Virginia, business district considered one of the state's most promising growth centers.

APTA's neighbors will include the new Amazon headquarters in next door Crystal City, as well as an extensive technology campus being constructed by Virginia Tech.

Dunn provided a virtual tour of APTA Centennial Center in recorded remarks, before a live address in which she hoped all APTA members will eventually journey to visit the new facility, which currently does not allow visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This building is an expression of our values,” Dunn said. “It encourages movement and promotes health. It enables collaboration and community. And just like that first office space in New York, it establishes a foundation to build something even greater.”

In addition to Dunn and Moore, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson was on hand to speak about the association's relationship with the city, which began when APTA first moved to Alexandria in 1984.

Since that time, Wilson said, APTA has remained an engaged partner, and is now "the tip of the spear for economic development" in the National Landing region, which includes Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.

"We are proud to call APTA a core component of our city of Alexandria," Wilson said. "You guys put us on the map. You're a national organization with great visibility."

Other participants in the event included Bo Machayo, representing Virginia Senator Mark Warner, and Adam Ebbin, Virginia state senator from Alexandria.

"Just as your profession transforms society," Ebbin said, "Your new building will transform the look and feel of National Landing."

A video recording of the ribbon-cutting event is available on the website.

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