Phi Epsilon Kappa members spend spring break volunteering


By: Katherine Gentry
Creative Services Student Writer

PHOTO: JMU students volunteer

To some people, spending spring break volunteering means giving up your break and missing out on fun. Members of Phi Epsilon Kappa, a co-ed fraternity for health sciences, kinesiology, and dance students, found that volunteering and having fun are not mutually exclusive. During spring break of 2018, several members of Phi Epsilon Kappa went to Charlotte, North Carolina to volunteer at Lifespan, a non-profit organization that provides services to individuals with disabilities. “We wanted to show that community service can be fun,” Zach Bunner, a health sciences major explained. “We weren’t giving up our break for it, we were just having fun in a different way.”

At Lifespan, the JMU students helped with different projects at the facility such as leading activities and painting rocks for a walkway. Through volunteering at the facility, the students gained a new perspective. Bunner said, “We all learned that just because someone has a developmental disability, that doesn’t mean that they are helpless. While there, I saw some of the best paintings I had ever seen. They had a basketball team that won a championship. Everyone has their own abilities and unique talents.” Dan Buhl, a kinesiology major, added, “Throughout our time there, we learned that the voices of people with disabilities often go unheard and they are not as well represented as they should be. I took away from the experience to not just treat others with respect, but to listen to them and to advocate for those who cannot always advocate for themselves.”

PHOTO: Student names on boardMembers of Phi Epsilon Kappa observed real-life examples of what they learned about in class. Bunner said, “In my chronic disease and disability class, we learned about seeing disabilities through the medical model where the purpose is to fix the individual versus the social model where you work towards fixing society to fit the individual. We saw that model implemented at Lifespan and it was cool to see what I learned in class being used in the real world.” The students learned about adapted exercise through participating in a yoga class where all of the poses were modified so that they could be performed in a chair. Buhl described it saying, “It was amazing to see the instructor take yoga positions that we knew and change them so that they could be done in a chair. It will really be interesting to apply this to the exercise world since everyone needs exercise to be healthy.”

The service trip helped to boost the confidence of students and expand their horizons. Many of the students who participated in the trip are special education minors. Volunteering at Lifespan gave them affirmation that they want to work with people with disabilities. Buhl said, “It opened our eyes to new possibilities of what we can do after college. It gives us the confidence that we could do something like this as a career.”

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Published: Thursday, April 5, 2018

Last Updated: Monday, May 23, 2022

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