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SLU Physical Therapy, Athletic Training and Nutrition and Dietetics Students Partner with Local Organization to Improve Community

The Saint Louis University (SLU) Athletic Training, Physical Therapy and Nutrition and Dietetics programs teamed up with community partner Unleashing Potential (UP) – who offers early childhood and after-school programs - to teach local area children about the basic concepts of what athletic trainers, physical therapists and registered dieticians do and to attempt to spark an interest in future learning. The students involved were from the SLU Athletic Training Society (SLATS), SLU Physical Therapy Student Association (PTSA) and Nutrition and Dietetics department and were funded through a grant from the SLU 1818 Community Engagement Grant Program.

DCHS Students Involved in UP Event
SLU Athletic Training, Nutrition and Dietetics and Physical Therapy students who helped organize community event with Unleashing Potential organization.

The event was split into two different sections: one for younger children (ages 3 – 5) and one for older children (ages 6 – 12). Activities ranged from learning how to apply bandages and hand sanitization with the young kids to learning about different organs and the importance of a healthy diet and exercise with the older children. Each group incorporated fun physical activities to make the learning more interactive and fun for the kids.

Kelsey Bequette, a SLU Physical Therapy student involved in the event, thought the event was a great way to get young kids in the St. Louis community active and learning.

“We thought it would be great to work together to teach the kids fun ways to stay healthy and safe in their activities,” Bequette said. “While PTs and ATs are similar, they also each bring a unique aspect to the health care team. Partnering allowed us to create a more comprehensive event and bring each of our expertise into the process. We also included Nutrition and Dietetics students who brought their knowledge and educated the kids about healthy eating.”

Caitlyn Thomas, one of the SLU Athletic Training students involved in the event, was hopeful that the children who participated consider building on their new knowledge and eventually pursue careers in health care.

“Honestly, I hope the children learned more about our professions in general and have gotten a sense of what kinds of things ATs, PTs and RDs do,” Thomas said. “I did not know about AT or PT professions when I was their age, so I hope this event was a way for them to increase their knowledge about healthy lifestyle habits.”

The 1818 Community Engagement Grant Program, launched as part of the university’s bicentennial celebration in 2018, awarded 18 grants of up to $1,800 to empower students to self-author their own experiences related to service and social action. SLU’s PTSA and SLATS student groups initiated this partnership with Unleashing Potential through a SLU 1818 Grant in the 2018-2019 school year. This project was deemed to have a high impact on the community, so it was renewed for the 2019-2020 school year.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.