A Call to Action - Volunteers Needed for PT Professor's QOL Grant for Children
Dr. Michelle Gutierrez, clinical assistant professor of Physical Therapy, is seeking student volunteers from within the College of Health Sciences to assist in the implementation of a quality of life grant she recently received from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
The grant will be used to purchase adaptive wheelchairs for children living with paralysis so they can participate in sports activities. Dr. Gutierrez explained that families in this situation often refrain from allowing the children to participate due to fear of the wheelchairs becoming damaged in the process, along with insurance regulations typically funding wheelchairs only once every five years.
Dr. Gutierrez will work with a local not for profit partner, Empowering People with Inclusion and Function in Adaptive Sports (EPIFAS), whose main aim is to break stereotypes about the abilities of handicapped individuals in the El Paso community. Mr. Cruz Gutierrez, EPIFAS director, will lead a “train the trainer” model where he will instruct student volunteers how to work with the children and the adaptive equipment. The children will then participate in an eight-week program with three sessions per week, rotating through activities that will include tennis and basketball, among others. Physical Therapy student Ana Uniforme will assist Dr. Gutierrez in conducting a pre- and post-program analysis of the impact of the program on the quality of life of the participants. Parents will also receive information on how to apply for additional grants for individuals wanting to participate in adaptive sports programs.
Dr. Gutierrez is in initial talks with the City of El Paso to use their facilities at least one day per week, and is seeking additional sponsors who are willing to donate space for the program. The project is in need of at least 24 student volunteers to work directly with the children during the sports activities. Experience in adaptive sports is ideal, but is not necessary to participate. For more information, please contact Dr. Gutierrez at firstname.lastname@example.org.