Massage Therapy Students Give Back at Opportunity, Inc.

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone to help someone? Reached out a helping hand when you weren’t quite sure of yourself? Pushed yourself to go the extra mile because you knew you would make a difference? This is exactly what Heather Sann, massage therapy student at Globe University-Wausau, accomplished when she took her role as a personal care worker at Opportunity, Inc., a local organization that runs a day service program for both mentally and physically disabled adults, to a much higher level.

“During our time as massage therapy students at Globe, we are given many opportunities to interact with the public during our open massage clinics in the safe environment of the on-campus lab,” Heather explained. “One class helps us step out of our safe zone and plunge into the real world—the Special Populations class.”

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Massage therapy students prepare to practice their skills at Opportunity, Inc.

“When Melissa Baker, [full-time massage therapy instructor], let us know that we would be going to Opportunity, Inc. for some practical experience, I was in heaven,” Heather said. “Even though my classmates were nervous, they came in like rays of sunshine,” she said.

“I started out introducing the students to their clients,” Heather explained. “All over the place there were heads, shoulders, arms, hands, legs and feet being massaged—and all over, there were the looks of total happiness on clients’ faces,” she said. “Quiet had fallen over the room by the time we were halfway through, and let me tell you, that does not happen very often at day services!” she said.

“To say that the clients enjoyed their massages would be such an understatement,” Heather said. “As we were walking out that day, I was already being asked by the clients when we would be returning! It was an amazing feeling,” she said.

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This, in fact, is not the first time students from the massage therapy program have visited Opportunity, Inc. Heather and Melissa facilitated a previous visit this past winter. By demonstrating their techniques at the facility, they were even recognized by Globe University with an Applied Learning Award.

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Massage therapy student working on a client’s hand

“Students stated that the service learning project was well worth it and they were glad to have had this experience,” Melissa said. “The ability to use their skills to truly make someone’s day made up for any apprehension they had about working with clients who had a wide variety of conditions they hadn’t yet worked with,” she said. “With increasing rates of autism being diagnosed and better community integration for people with special needs, this was a great opportunity to allow students to work with this population.”

“I cannot truly express how proud I am of the Special Populations class,” Heather said. “My clients at Opportunity, Inc. are very special people who hold a dear place in my heart. “

“I sincerely hope this is a tradition that will continue between Globe University-Wausau’s massage therapy program and Opportunity, Inc.,” Heather said. “I try to live their vision statement every day, ‘Making a difference in every life we touch.’ I certainly believe we all did that today.”

Blog content contributed by massage therapy student and student ambassador, Heather Sann, full-time massage therapy instructor Melissa Baker, and Community Manager Heather Holzem.