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Penn College students learn from serving with YMCA group

Students in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s physical therapist assistant major learned about their community and themselves when they spent a recent Saturday morning with a group of “Superstars” at the Eastern Lycoming Branch of River Valley YMCA near Pennsdale.

The YMCA Superstars is a movement class developed by River Valley YMCA fitness instructor Diana Logan for individuals with diverse abilities. Using “Drums Alive” activities with music, drumsticks and stability balls, participants can develop motor skills, coordination, stamina and strength.

As part of its service-learning project, the physical therapist assistant Class of 2022 provided a fun karaoke day for the Superstars.

The students brainstormed projects that would give back to their community and would relate to their profession through activity and movement.

“We instantly knew that this was the program we wanted to work with,” said Class President Sydney A. Bruno, of Williamsport.

The group chose to participate in the Superstars’ regularly scheduled drumming activity and to then lead another music-based activity: karaoke and dancing. The students incorporated ribbons and hand bells — specially designed so participants of all abilities could hold them.

“Our class learned so much from this project – not only about the participants and our community, but about ourselves,” Bruno said.

She reflected on how welcoming participants were, what a good workout the drumming activity provided — “I think we all broke a sweat,” she said — and how the music brought energy and joy to the experience.

“The participants really came out of their shells and blossomed during the musical activities,” Bruno said. “They all have such different, amazing talents, and the program gives them a safe and welcoming place where they can be themselves, be creative, and have fun while also staying healthy and active.

“I think it was an important lesson for us as future physical therapist assistants in making exercise fun and interactive using music. Keeping people healthy through movement and exercise is a huge focus of our profession, but making something like exercise fun is not always an easy task. We learned so much about movement, music, group instruction and friendship from the program directors and the participants alike, and I think these lessons will remain with all of us as we move forward into the physical therapy field.”

“When asked to reflect on the day, the students talked about how much fun they had and how amazing it was to see the smiles on the Superstars’ faces,” said Victoria Hurwitz, director of physical therapist assistant. “One thing that really stood out is that, after class, Diana had time for each participant to share something. She stressed that every single person, no matter what their age or ability, should have a voice. Many participants shared, and it was truly touching.”

Service learning is part of the physical therapist assistant program’s curriculum, with the goal of fostering altruism — putting patients and others above self — and community involvement.

Penn College offers an associate degree in physical therapist assistant. Hands-on learning takes place in a well-equipped, on-campus laboratory where students practice skills and interventions. In addition, each student completes three clinical education experiences, available with more than 65 diverse organizations offering opportunities in inpatient, outpatient, long-term and specialty care. To learn more, call 570-320-4439 or visit www.pct.edu/pta.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, visit www.pct.edu, email admissions@pct.edu or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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