Thursday, October 22, 2009

Taking Strides for Service Learning

What's Service Learning?
It's one way our Vol State classes can get directly involved in the community, doing projects that tie directly into what they are learning in the classroom. The Physical Therapy Assistant Program recently took on a Service Learning project to help the Faces of Hope Children's Therapy Center. Student Missy McAdams Huffman has more:
Normally at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning there is very little activity going on at a college campus. This was not the case on Oct. 3 at Volunteer State Community College. The students in the Physical Therapist Assistant program were up early to set up and prepare for a 5K fun run and walk, called Paces for Faces, which they had organized to benefit Faces of Hope Children’s Therapy Center in Gallatin.
Ruthie Martin, Will Hudson, Luis Del Rio and Abbey Gilbert serve as the team leaders for this year’s PTA class, which consists of a total of 31 students. The team leaders were responsible for planning and organizing the event as well as delegating responsibilities for each team and each student prior to and on the day of the event.
The event raised $3,000 for Faces of Hope. On Oct. 13 the class presented a check to Leslie Face, the founder and director of the center. And in appreciation for their efforts, the class received a plaque and was treated to lunch by the staff of Faces of Hope.
According to the team leaders the event took a tremendous amount of planning and organizing. It took a complete group effort and each leader felt that the individual students and the teams worked hard to make the event a success.
“We started working on the project about the second or third week of the summer semester,” shared Martin.
“And we would meet weekly as individual teams and monthly as a class to make sure we were on track with all of our planning,” added Gilbert.
Before they began planning the event, the class had to agree upon which organization would benefit from their efforts. Martin explained that it was her team that brought Faces of Hope to the attention of the rest of the class and it was Gilbert’s team that suggested organizing the 5K. All four team leaders admitted that it was a lot to take on.
“We really had to pull all of our resources together to make it work,” Hudson said.
“But everyone really bought into the idea of the 5K,” explained Del Rio. “And it really was our best option to raise money to help Faces of Hope.”
The team leaders said that they didn’t have a particular monetary goal in mind when they began working on the project. Hudson shared that they wanted to get as many people involved as possible.
“I think we all wanted to raise enough money to help them bring a physical therapist to the center, but that was $40,000 so that really wasn’t realistic. But we did raise enough to maybe go to it,” added Del Rio.
All four agreed that the event was a great success and they would easily do it again. They admitted that they did have a few bumps along the way, but nothing that they couldn’t overcome as a group. They all learned to trust each other as individuals and as a class.
“During the planning and on the day of the event everyone really stepped up,” said Hudson.
And on the day of the event, according to the team leaders, things went very smoothly. On the day of the event, close to 30 people showed up to participate, in addition to those who had already preregistered. That surprised and thrilled the entire group and the participants were pleased as well.
“I had people coming up to me saying that they were amazed at how well we were able to pull it off,” said Martin. “They were asking if we would do it again.”
As for next year and doing it again, each team leader hopes that the next class will pick up where they left off and make the event even bigger and better. They also expressed their thoughts on how much they enjoyed working on the project and seeing it through to completion.
“We all learned how to work together as a team and as a class as a whole,” explained Del Rio. “And we all had to balance our heavy class schedule while working on the project.”
“And it felt good. We’re so centered on this program, but we learned that we could work on our classes, the project and spend time with our families,” added Gilbert.
“It was a great learning experience for all of us – being able to do something for someone else,” shared Hudson.
“Doing something like this and being able to give back really was a great experience for all of us,” said Martin.
And the students weren’t the only ones impressed with their efforts. Carolyn Moore, the director of the PTA program and Pam Saladino, the ACCE of the program, commented on the efforts of their students relating to the event.
“I think that their event was well thought out and planned out. I loved the teamwork that they applied to the project in order to accomplish something for such a deserving organization.
“And I was not surprised. I was thrilled and pleased, but not surprised because I know the caliber of these students,” said Saladino.
Moore added, “I was very proud of the class for their organization, cooperation and follow through that they showed for such a worthy organization.”

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