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If you can't go big, go local: That's the lesson from this year's version of "PT in the Community." The APTA member-led service effort made a successful transition from a single event tied to the host city of the APTA Combined Sections Meeting to an initiative that encouraged PTs, PTAs, and students to channel their community outreach closer to home.

Did the idea work? With some 574 screenings delivered, 153 volunteer hours contributed, and nearly $3,000 in donations raised in a single month, the answer is yes.

Like most other events that were altered over the past year, the 2021 edition of PT in the Community was born of necessity, when it became clear that APTA CSM would have to be held virtually out of safety concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The change made it impossible for PT in the Community to move forward as usual, with conference attendees coming together to engage in service projects in the host city.

Organizer Patrick Berner, PT, DPT, RDN, wasted no time in shifting gears to encourage locally based efforts spearheaded by teams across the country. He even managed to turn it into a competition — because, as he said, "we all know that most physical therapy professionals have that competitive nature and an even greater burning desire to help people." (Interested in participating next year? Contact PT in the Community for more information.)

The initiative also received financial support from APTA Geriatrics, APTA Acute Care, and the Ujima Institute.

This Year's Teams

A total of 12 teams — 60 participants in all — signed up for the PT in the Community challenge, engaging in a variety of community service efforts such as health screenings and volunteering for existing programs. The teams were:

CU Fighters (Omaha, Neb.)
ACHE PT (Fort Smith, Ark.)
PT/OT G.O.A.T.s for GOATS (Salt Lake City, Utah)
#TPTABOD (Houston)
Melanin Matters (Durham, N.C.)
UI Change (multiple locations)
Forgotten Borough Battlers (Staten Island, N.Y.)
Team JAMMP (PTs from Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Virginia, and North Carolina)
Bedford Gait Keepers (Virginia)
PhilanthroCrew (central Kentucky)
6 City Lights (Atlanta)
Blue Jays (Omaha, Neb.)

And the Winners Were…

First place: Team JAMMP
Money raised: $1,300 for Meals on Wheels

Second place: Philanthro Crew
Money raised: $800 for Central Kentucky Youth

Third place: ACHE PT
Money raised: $400 for the River Valley Marshals Youth Mountain Bike Team 

Fourth place: 6 City Lights
Money raised: $200 for Crossroad Community Center

What Member Volunteers Had To Say

“Challenges like this are important for our profession. They can be used to instigate change but also provide some recognition for those in the PT community who are making local impacts on a day-to-day basis. For our team, any chance to promote movement is a chance that has to be taken.” – Reed Handlery, PT, DPT, PhD, team ACHE PT

"This has been a tough year for everybody. Participating in this event revitalized my love for the physical therapy profession and my community, and inspired me to take better care of my health and wellness personally." -Jessica Dunn, PT, DPT, MS, team JAMMP

“PT in the Community was a great way to get more involved. The different challenges pushed us out of our comfort zones and allowed us to get to know our community and those in our cohort more, which has proven especially difficult during COVID." - McKenzie Meola, SPT, Team Bluejays, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.

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