Service Learning at the Special Olympics

By: Regina Hughes, Massage Program Chair, Plymouth, MN

On June 17th students from the Plymouth campus participated in chair massage at the Special Olympics at the University of Minnesota. This was a service learning project for the Business of Massage class, but we also had other students join in on the event. There was a lot of excitement and nervousness before going. We had a great time with the athletes and felt honored to be part of such a spectacular event. The heat was on and it was an exceptionally hot day. This did not stop us from seeing over 200 hundred athletes!! On this day I was particularly proud to be with our students and part of this special day. It was a huge success and we have been invited to return again next year.

As part of the project students were asked to complete an essay about their day and how you can use volunteerism to promote your business and network. Below are excerpts from the students essays and I think it sums up the experience perfectly!

“Giving massages at the Special Olympics was an amazing experience for me. I felt like I actually made a difference in peoples’ days. All the athletes were so grateful that we had free massages for them”.

“It really made me feel good to volunteer and help others out. The Special Olympics is a great organization and it was wonderful to be part of it for that day.”

“I got something out of this event and I am glad it was required. I learned a lot about myself as a massage therapist, getting comfortable outside my norm.”

“Little positive statements were just flying around under the canopy; words like, “I’m so relaxed now”, and “you’re the best” were being repeated regularly. It was really fantastic to witness what a good time everybody was having.”

“Our School motto is “MSB cares” and it was evident that day. I know I couldn’t stop smiling.”

“Not only was this a great opportunity to practice our skills in massage and work in the public, it was also great chance to interact with our classmates outside of the classroom setting.”

“I’m not sure who enjoyed it more to be honest. It felt so good to be doing something like this, and I for sure want to be involved in events like the Special Olympics in the future.”

“Being part of the volunteer group of Special Olympics is a truly satisfying and rewarding experience for me. Volunteering in any way is such a rewarding activity in itself.”

“With each athlete came a different bond through touch, a different story, and once again, another rush of self satisfaction for me to display proudly in my smile.”