Service is at the very heart of our profession. Every day we serve our patients, clients, and ultimately, our communities. Sometimes, however, we can lose sight of how impactful our actions can be out in the world. This is the idea that drives the Global Physical Therapy Day of Service: that PTs can immerse themselves in serving their communities and advocate for the profession by working together across the world on a single day.
How can we transform our passion for serving others into a movement that transcends the clinic?
Global Physical Therapy Day of Service™ (PTDOS) provides a vehicle for us to drive our passion to serve our local and global communities. Since 2015, nearly 15,000 participants in 60 countries have done just that. They’ve held donation drives, volunteered at food banks, and performed movement screens - just to name a few of the many different ways people have gotten involved. PTDOS 2019 is another chance for PTs and PTAs to get more in touch with their profession and their communities!
You may be wondering how you can balance the challenges of being an early professional clinician with getting involved with the PT Day of Service. Many therapists who’ve joined the movement have worked with their clinics to create opportunities to give back to their communities!
Alyssa Breslin, a relatively new graduate, took on that challenge last year while in the middle of a neurological physical therapy residency at Texas Women’s University in Dallas. She worked with her co-resident and the students from TWU Dallas to provide “Welcome Home” baskets to individuals who were being assisted into homes after experiencing homelessness.
There were challenges with planning the project while balancing residency demands, personal demands, and even weather-related challenges the day of the event. However, Alyssa’s passion for this project, passion to serve, and supportive group of participants rallied to have an amazing PTDOS event! Through that experience, she saw firsthand how willing people are to step up to the plate to create a positive change for their community.
Alyssa’s experience highlights a couple questions New Grads may be asking themselves when it comes to joining PTDOS.
Why is it important for PTs to participate in a community service event like PTDOS?
Getting involved with your community and getting to the root of why many of us joined the profession – to help others – can stoke the fire that keeps our passion for our profession burning bright. As new grads and early professionals, we are going to be playing a significant role in the direction of our profession in years to come.
How do you balance work/residency with planning or participating in a PTDOS event?
Know that you are never alone when it comes to these service projects. You may have an amazing team at your workplace or university who can help support your passion. In addition, the PT Day of Service has a fantastic Support Team (actually led by Alyssa herself this year) who can help provide strategies and resources for success.
So PTs, are you ready to get involved with PTDOS 2019? There are 3 easy ways to get started!
- Pledge to participate as a Participant and find a project near you with our Project Map
- Create your own project as a PTDOS Ambassador
- Serve either on October 12 or within one week of that date
But wait – what physical therapy volunteer opportunities are available on the Physical Therapy Day of Service?
There’s so many ways you can get involved. Below are just a few service projects where PTs put their creativity and passion into bringing physical therapy to their communities:
- In Birmingham, Alabama, Drayer Physical Therapy Institute and UAB DPT students sponsored a benefit concert entitled “Bands and Brew” to help with Hurricane Relief.
- In Kurdistan, Iraq, physiotherapists visited a Syrian Refugee camp in which they held an exercise workshop for children and held a seminar for women to understand how to use movement and exercises to self-manage low back pain.
- In Phoenix, AZ, DPT and PA students from Northern Arizona University and A.T. Still University collaborated with the SHOW clinic to provide free blood glucose screening, foot exams, and sock/shoe donations to homeless individuals.
- In Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, physiotherapists participated in the T-20 Hurricane Relief Cricket Game at the Queen’s Park Oval and also raised supplies for communities in the region affected by the recent hurricanes.
- In Tijuana, Mexico, a crew of PTs, PTAs and students partnered with Flying Samaritans to provide pro bono services. They also spent part of their day working with public health services to educate children and adults on the importance of daily physical activity.
These examples are just a snapshot of the impact of PT Day of Service. As you can see, not every volunteer opportunity meant providing physical therapy services — but every event involved PTs working for the benefit of their communities. This is what the PT Day of Service is all about!
How the Global PT Day of Service Began
Several years ago, one starry night on the Amazon River, Efosa Guobadia was captivated by a crazy idea. What if, on the same day, clinicians, students and associated staff of the physical therapy profession volunteered in different communities on the same day around the world? What if we then shared those moments and acts in a way that was galvanizing, inspiring, and promoted connections all across the globe? What if?! He couldn’t shake it off and quickly e-mailed his friend and colleague, Josh D’Angelo. Without hesitation, Josh thought “Let's really do this. Let's shoot for the stars.”
The idea evolved into a global movement driven by ten passionate volunteers. Participants come from 49 states, 25 countries, 40+ sponsors, and over 1,000 domestic and international pledges dedicated to transform society. Since the development of this initiative, we have had the chance to engage our communities about servant leadership and civic responsibility. We have had the chance to convert compassion into action.
As a PT or PTA, what makes you tick? What motivates you to get up every morning to go to work? For us, it’s been the insatiable desire to help others. It’s the feeling knowing that every day is an opportunity to improve someone’s quality of life. We get to wipe the tears of joy when a patient walks for the first time after a stroke. We get to celebrate with the patient who is pain-free and able to play with her kids after having chronic pain for years. Now imagine that impact on a global scale on the same exact day. Just imagine.
The impact of this initiative is greater than anything we could have envisioned for ourselves. To our knowledge, this was the first global Day of Service coordinated by a whole profession!
A global initiative like Physical Therapy Day of Service gives us the chance to lead alongside our colleagues around the world while reaching out to serve our local communities. NOW is the time to make a difference in your community and your profession by helping this international movement!
Be sure to keep up to date with all things PTDOS through our Website and Social Media including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
Don’t forget to use #PTDOS (for anything related to PT Day of Service) & #PTServes (to discover what everyone else is doing for their service project) on our Facebook & Twitter pages. If you have any questions, please email us at PTDayofService@gmail.com.
What are you doing this year to serve your community and join the PT Day of Service? Comment below and share your ideas!
This article was written through the combined efforts of Matthew Downey, PT, DPT, OCS; Keaton Ray, DPT, OCS, ATC, CERT, MDT, CSCS; Meg Simonetti-Deters, PT, DPT, MSHA; April Fajardo, PT, DPT; and Jen Gigliotti, PT, DPT, OCS