Global Physical Therapy Day of Service

By Emily Hung ’23, December 8, 2022

Physical therapy students give back to the local community.

This fall, graduate students in Ithaca College’s department of physical therapy participated in a day of service at the Ithaca Children’s Garden, as part of this year’s Global Physical Therapy Day of Service, sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Kayleen Alvarado-Rodriguez ’23, a sixth-year student, organized the event. Alvarado-Rodriguez also serves as an advocacy chair for APTA New York’s Student Special Interest Group and has volunteered with the Children’s Garden in the past.

“As physical therapists, contributing to projects that strengthen the community is an important part of our professional identity. By helping the Children’s Garden with this small project, we can contribute to their mission to improve access to outdoor play spaces for children across the region.”

Sarah Fishel, associate director of physical therapy

“I want to go into pediatrics after I graduate, so I’m excited for anything that involves helping out the youth and making the world a better place for them,” she said.

A handful of students and two faculty members helped tidy the garden and prepare the space for the winter.

“Service is important to me because family isn’t from here,” said Ikraan Sheekh Nuur ’24, a fifth-year student. “So, it’s important for me to see other people of different backgrounds getting involved and doing things so that people can be inspired by them.”

Sheekh Nuur helped rake the leaves and put fresh soil on the ground.

“The point was to help clean up the place and make it look as nice as possible for the kids,” she said. “So, kids can actually play there and hang out there.”

Students smiling

Students were all smiles as they developed community connections. (Photo submitted)

Similarly, Alvarado-Rodriguez says service is a significant part of her life and is important as a physical therapy student.

“I come from an underrepresented community,” Alvarado-Rodriguez said. “I identify as Hispanic, and growing up, whether that was through the church or programs in my local community, I was able to benefit from community service programs. When there were no programs intended to help us out, I really saw the impact that it had on me and the other people within my community.”

Sarah Fishel, associate director of physical therapy, says these types of service activities give students a chance to give back and build a sense of community within the department. It also fulfills the college’s strategic plan goals of developing community partnerships and being a private college serving a public good.

“As physical therapists, contributing to projects that strengthen the community is an important part of our professional identity,” Fishel said. “By helping the Children’s Garden with this small project, we can contribute to their mission to improve access to outdoor play spaces for children across the region.”