HIGH POINT, N.C., June 20, 2018 – High fiving a teammate in a moment of victory is an action that some people may take for granted. But High Point University physical therapy students know that every high five they receive from their “buddies” is a moment of celebration for a child with limited mobility.
HPU’s physical therapy doctoral students are engaging with children enrolled at Camp High Five at Haynes-Inman Education Center in Jamestown. The camp limits the child’s use of the most mobile side of their body in order to encourage increased movement on their limited side.
Each day brings its own special theme, such as Super Hero Day on Tuesday. HPU students helped children pick out capes and decorate masks and shields as they designed their own super hero character.
“The kids are happy, and it’s exciting to see them growing every day,” said Hope Walker, a second-year physical therapy student from Charlotte. “We’re learning to find creative and encouraging ways for the children to learn and have fun, which is very different than when you’re working with adults. My biggest takeaway is how to think on your feet.”
For Matheos Khaliqui, a 7-year-old camper, it was all about the cape.
“I picked blue because it’s my favorite color,” Khaliqui said. “Today is a lot of fun.”
Khaliqui had students like Abigail Snyder, a first-year physical therapy student from Marshall, Illinois, guiding him through activities throughout the day, such as making crafts with his non-dominant hand and jumping along an obstacle course in the gym.
“It’s a challenge to encourage them to use their limited side, but then they want to make you proud and be your best friend,” said Snyder. “Having an experience like this where I can apply what we’ve learned so early in our academic careers makes a big difference.”
The camp was created by Ashley Collier, a Greensboro mom who has a child with limited mobility. She says Camp High Five is one of a few in the country that use constraint-induced movement therapy to encourage children to strengthen their limited side. Collier teamed up with Dora Gosselin, assistant professor of physical therapy in HPU’s Department of Physical Therapy, so HPU students can serve as “buddies” who work with the children throughout the day while gaining valuable experience.
“We couldn’t have this camp without the physical therapy students and their capabilities,” said Collier, who’s organized Camp High Five for three years in a row. “Each camper has an occupational therapy buddy and a physical therapy buddy with them thanks to the students. They offer encouragement, problem-solving skills and make camp adaptable to each child.”
HPU faculty see the value for student learning through community service.
“Experiential learning is the best choice for physical therapy students,” says Gosselin. “Our students bring motivation and energy for the children. Some of our students want to be pediatric physical therapists, so this experience is very valuable. Others are just dedicated to knowledge and learning and combined this experience with an already heavy class load.”
The camp runs every day through June 22.