UMASS Lowell Students Select SOMA as Community Partner

Special Olympic athletes, families and supporters should be thrilled to know that Kyle Coffey and Megan Williams, UMASS Lowell Student Physical Therapists, will soon enter the workforce as potential care providers for Special Olympic athletes.  While partnering with SOMA’s Healthy Athletes© Program, these students created a training video demonstrating the role physical therapists have in treating people with disabilities, specifically via the Fun Fitness screening.  This video will be a crucial way to spread the word about SOMA athletes and their need for quality, accessible healthcare.  Way to go, guys! 

 Here’s what they had to say about their experience and the final product:


Training Video for Physical Therapy Volunteers Involved with Healthy Athletes FUNfitness Program

By Kyle F. Coffey, SPT and Megan L. Williams, SPT

            As part of a joint venture between Special Olympics Massachusetts and the University of Massachusetts Lowell Physical Therapy Department, a video was developed for training volunteers for Healthy Athletes FUNfitness. The training video is intended for physical therapy volunteers, including physical therapists (PT), physical therapy assistants (PTA), and student physical therapists (SPT). The purpose and primary goal of this video is to improve the education, efficiency, and consistency regarding proper performance of screening techniques amongst physical therapy volunteers participating in the FUNfitness program.

            The training video is divided into sections, providing informational slides and actual athlete video of the overall process and individual components. The sections include the intake process, and the screening process consisting of stations for required equipment, registration and exit, education, flexibility, functional strength, balance, and aerobic performance. We have also created a feedback and questionnaire form to be given to the physical therapy volunteers in order to determine the effectiveness and thoroughness of the training video and to identify areas that might need more focus with the Special Olympics Athletes.

            FUNfitness is an opportunity for physical therapy students to learn from the athletes and the screening process. Through active participation, students develop competencies in delivering quality and appropriate health care to individuals with disabilities. Athletes, coaches, and caregivers are also able to learn about the physical therapists’ role in the community in the development of wellness programs.

            This project took dedication and commitment from numerous individuals.  Special thanks are extended to:

  • Jim Gleason, PT MS Education Coordinator for FUNfitness Special Olympic Inc. Lecturer UMass Medical School Department Pediatrics
  • Dr. Deirdra Murphy, PT, DPT, MHA, MS; Faculty advisor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Clinical Director of Special Olympics Massachusetts FUNfitness Program
  • Stephanie Savarese, Healthy Athletes Program Coordinator, Special Olympics Massachusetts
  • John Cappiello, SOMA Assistant Director of Technology, Volunteer videographer
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell Media Center
  • Most importantly, the Special Olympics Athletes!


For more information on this project, the Healthy Athletes FUNfitness Program, or to learn more about becoming a volunteer, please contact:

                        Name: Stephanie Savarese, Healthy Athletes Program Director

                        Number: 508-485-0986 ext 223



One thought on “UMASS Lowell Students Select SOMA as Community Partner

  1. Pingback: Chirpir News | UMASS Lowell Students Select SOMA as Community Partner « Special …

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