D.P.T. students exercise service learning

FullSizeRenderStrength, endurance, flexibility, power — DMU doctor of physical therapy students took over the Moulton Elementary School gymnasium on one of the hottest days of summer to translate these concepts into kid-friendly activities for a service-learning component of a clinical applications course.

D.P.T. students worked with elementary-aged kids who are participating in the “Awesome Days” summer program at Children & Family Urban Movement (CFUM) as part of the course. The mission of CFUM is to create a community to support the potential of children, youth and families through educational success, healthy living and community engagement.

Dr. Laura Covill, who instructs the course, says the learning outcomes for her students range from building cultural competency while working with children from other cultures, to communication with a pediatric population and general professionalism. The students were expected to develop an educational presentation related to health and fitness. Working in teams, they integrate skills of teaching and learning and child development to present a fun, informative educational experience for children from kindergarten to fifth grade.

“My goal is to work in pediatrics in the future,” says Shayla McIntyre, D.P.T.’17. “This experience was a great opportunity to interact with children and work on my skills. CFUM was a lot of fun because the kids were extremely interested in trying new things and using new tools related to staying healthy.”


McIntyre helped teach a group of elementary-aged students about the heart, how to take their pulse and use a stethoscope and pulse oximeter.

“I really enjoyed watching their faces light up when they felt their pulse for the first time or heard their heart through the stethoscope,” McIntyre says. “We do not have a lot of opportunities to work with children in our curriculum unless we treat them during a clinical rotation, so I feel CFUM is a good way to gain experience.”

Other students, such as Mary Beth Wims, D.P.T.’17, said working with a community group encouraged her to ‘think on her feet’ and adapt her presentation to the environment and audience. It also inspired her to think about sending a message that will have long-term impact.

“In the course of our physical therapy education, we learn so much about the importance of preventive health,” Wims said. “I think the challenge is in helping people understand that moving more, eating right and controlling stress now will benefit them years from now. With kids, the potential benefits from implementing healthy behaviors now is even greater.”

On July 30 and 31, students from across DMU programs will volunteer as part of our annual free back-to-school physicals event, which will be held this year at CFUM’s drop-in center for teens.

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