An Integral Part of Physical Therapy Practice

"As the community based learning coordinator for the Physical Therapy Club for the 2016-2017 school year, I have learned immensely about the different opportunities that exist for students to volunteer within the surrounding community.

Throughout the school year, the Physical Therapy Club provides exercise classes to three of the local senior living facilities and two of the local day cares. Seniorcise is an exercise class that occurs twice a week for 60 minutes while Kidercise is once a week for 60 minutes. These exercise classes are a great way for students to interact with the community & be creative in the exercise classes.

In addition, the club assists in coordinating a Wheelchair Basketball Tournament for I AM organization & a Volleyball Marathon for Cystic Fibrosis as well as volunteering at the Leahy Clinic. The Leahy Clinic is run by students and provides physical therapy services to the uninsured in the surrounding area. While volunteering at the clinic, students are able to gain knowledge within the field.

There are two service trips available to PT club members: Navajo Indian Reservation & Guatemala.

On the Navajo Indian Reservation, students partake in service including cleaning, organizing, painting, & assisting in the care of children at a local school as well as immerse in the Navajo culture. 

In Guatemala, through Hearts in Motion, students provide physical therapy care to various communities. There are many other options for community based learning for students.

Many students volunteer at the local soup kitchen, weight training for athletic teams, dog shelters, & Challenger Soccer. Challenger Soccer is a program at Riverfront Sports Complex for children with special needs who want to participate in sports and be a team member. I am very happy to been given this opportunity, and one of my favorite parts is learning how much our help is truly appreciated by the community." 

- Maureen Taylor, DPT Class of 2018

Check out the PT Club website for service events

Service to others is an integral part of physical therapy at The University of Scranton.  There are many service opportunities including:

Seniorcise - Exercise program for seniors

Kidsercise - Exercise program for children

Clinical Practice - Leahy Family Health and Family Center

Service Trips (scroll down for details)


The University of Scranton Physical Therapy department has journeyed on a service trip to Guatemala in Central America during the intersession winter break. The organization, Hearts in Motion (HIM), organizes the service experience, traveling to numerous settings (including clinics, community settings and the home care setting) to provide therapy to underserved Guatemalans, from ages two to 82. The University of Scranton faculty and students provide care to Guatemalans in Santa Cruz in the region of Zacapa and in a senior center clinic in Gualan, as well as treat outpatients and children from the nutrition center in Zacapa on this trip.  On top of the clinical and cultural experiences found in Zacapa, the trip saves time to explore the original Guatemalan capital of Antigua. Here students venture on a zip line tour in the surrounding mountain region and have the opportunity to hike an active volcano (Pacaya). 

"This past January I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend a service trip in Guatemala with some of my classmates. While there, we provided pphysical therapy services throughout different towns and clinics to those who were in need. We went to help them but what we came back with was far greater. We learned about their wonderful culture, caring people & their vast sense of gratitude & kindness.  I, along with my classmates, will always cherish the memories that I have of the nine days that we spent in Guatemala giving ourselves to others & I know that our lives have been forever changed."

-Maureen Taylor, DPT class of 2018

DPT students 

Maureen Taylor, Sammy Marri, and a local PT working on standing endurance with a child at the Gualan Nutriction Ciinic.

.DPT students

DPT students taking in the view at the summit of Volcán Pacaya.


DPT students enjoying their time in Morazan, El Progreso, Guatemala. 


Ryan Lumia, DPT class of 2018, spending quality time with a child at the Gualan Nutrition Clinic.


PT department chair, Peter Leininger, alumnae Niko Manetti, and current DPT students at the Kevin O'Halloran Physical Therapy clinic. 


Heather Derenick, class of 2018, helping a child prractice fine motor skills at the Gualan Nutrition Clinic.


St. Michaels, AZ

This winter intercession break, University of Scranton DPT faculty and students from the DPT and Exercise Science departments ventured on a service trip to St. Michaels, AZ.  This trip provided clinical hands on experience, but also an opportunity for immersion into the Navajo culture through storytelling, a weaving demonstration, and participation in a sweat lodge prayer ceremony.  Volunteering began at SMASE (St. Michael’s Association for Special Education) where students worked with children and young adults with disabilities ranging from moderate to severe. 

The St. Michaels School is a small, non-profit facility that has been providing education to physically and mentally handicapped children up to age 21 since 1970. Vocational agricultural, Culture, Daily Living Skills and Therapy programs are provided for the children. An adult education program is also provided.  This year Scranton graduate Mary Longest’15 is volunteering at St. Michael’s through the Mercy Volunteer Corps.  While not at SMASE, students and faculty volunteered at the Good Shepherd Mission and also were able to visit the 4 Corners Monument and Canyon de Chelly.   

“During my time on the Navajo reservation my outlook on life and on my future career as a Physical Therapist changed forever.  The humility and gratitude shown among the Navajos, and their ability to share immensely with outsiders has impacted me greatly.  I look forward to learning more about the Navajo culture in hopes that one day, when licensed, I can return and provide the reservation with medical care through the integration of modern medicine and traditional Navajo teachings.”

-Danielle Frank, EXSC '16, DPT Class of 2019

For more information about SMASE or Good Shepherd Mission, please see their websites:                                                           

Below are some photos from recent trips:


(Left to Right) Dr. John Sanko, Bow Arrow, DPT class of 2017, and Dr. Debra Miller, outside of Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, AZ.


A group picture at the top of Canyon De Chelly, a deep canyon containing well-preserved ruins located in Chinle, AZ.


(Left to Right): Bow Arrow, DPT class of 2017, Cassie Lucke, Lisa Jackowitz, and Danielle Frank, DPT class of 2019, at the Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park and Veteran's Memorial in Window Rock, AZ, the capital of the Navajo Nation.


Students pictured with Dr. John Sanko and Dr. Debra Miller at Four Corners National Monument.


Lisa Jackowitz (left) and Cassie Lucke (right), DPT class of 2019, painting a door at Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, AZ. 


The group poses for a picture at Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, AZ before leaving for the airport.

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