Along with cooler weather and Halloween, October ushers in National Physical Therapy Month. October is still a month for celebrating, despite the restrictions imposed on us all from the COVID-19 pandemic such as school, restaurant and gym closures (to name just a few), and health officials’ admonitions not to engage door-to-door trick-or-treating. It’s time to think about ingenious ways to celebrate virtually or within social distancing guidelines.
The American Physical Therapy Association has designated Saturday, October 10 as a special day during PT Month, the Physical Therapy Day of Service (PTDOS). Everyone is welcome to join in. The challenge this year will be to keep within CDC recommended guidelines. APTA and ASHT have numerous suggestions and opportunities to try, and these are applicable to PTs, OTs and hand therapists:
1. Park or beach clean-up. Check with your local parks and recreation department to see which areas are in most need. Bring your own tools and stay the recommended 6 feet apart!
2. Create a bin for your local food bank or homeless shelter. Coronavirus may live on surfaces for up to 72 hours, so allow time for donated items to inactivate prior to delivering the items to your local charity.
3. Donate shoes to Rippl. This organization partners with Soles4Souls to distribute donated shoes to wholesale merchants in developing countries. These merchants then employ local citizens to refurbish the shoes prior to resale.
4. Make a blood donation! Make your family, friends and patients aware that now more than ever, blood donations are needed.
5. Support a local nursing home. Write letters, create cards or send postcards who might be in isolation. It can be lonely out there for our senior citizens living in elder care facilities or in self-isolation.
6. Become a virtual mentor, and sign up for ASHT’s mentor program. You can provide one-on-one virtual mentorship for aspiring students and beginning CHTs.
7. Run a virtual 5k. Did you join the HTCC virtual 5k this year? If not, make a note to try this next year. You can participate from anywhere around the nation on your time.
Margaret Mead once wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” PTs across the world are asked to come together to perform acts of service, and to make that change. Service embodies who we are, and making a difference in the lives of others should not stop after clinic hours. I encourage you to be a part of this group of thoughtful, committed citizens.