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Physical Therapy Students Collaborate with Alumnus to Promote Healthy Lifestyles
07.30.13 |
Lebanon Valley College physical therapy students teamed up with two local businesses to help Hershey area children make healthy choices. The students worked with the staff of Caring Hands Learning Center and an LVC alumnus, current consumer communications specialist for Redner’s Markets in Palmyra.

Emily Hafer, Heather Brown, Anthony Mayers, and Adam Broad, fifth-year PT students, were enrolled in a health promotions course this past spring semester. With the help of their advisor Dr. Victoria Marchese, associate professor of physical therapy, they partnered with Tanya Shaw, owner and director of Caring Hands Learning Center, to document the effects of healthy eating and activities on attention and academic achievement in children age 3–5.

The students needed an organization willing to donate healthy food options to facilitate the study, and so they contacted Eric White ’99, Redner’s consumer communications specialist.

“I was also an intern at LVC while a student and found that the collaboration and assistance from alumni was an integral part in networking and gaining some insights from fellow LVC alumni,” said White. “Based on my personal experience, I felt it necessary to provide insight or assistance with LVC students as they prepared to enter the workplace.” White studied English at the Valley and was a former member of the football team, Green Blotter, and La Vie; he also received the John Zola award.

With White’s help, Redner’s generously donated gift cards to the learning center so that it could purchase fresh produce and healthy snacks for the children, such as reduced-fat milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grain bread. After a week of pre-study to obtain baseline information for the children’s attentiveness and gross motor skills, the healthier food options were introduced and the PT students began to assess any changes to overall behavior.

After four weeks, the study showed no significant change to the children’s behavior and motor skills. The student researchers hypothesized that a larger, more diverse study sample and a longer time period would conclude that healthier lifestyles do positively impact a child’s behavior and skills, as previous studies suggest. This study lasted only one month and analyzed five female children.

"Both Mr. White and Ms. Shaw were very eager to assist us with our research study,” said Hafer. “What a great opportunity to have worked with two local businesses while also promoting health and wellness in children."

The Student Alumni Association (SAA) works to connect alumni and current students who can benefit from their experience and expertise. Building a relationship with alumni can aid current students find internships, career opportunities, and other networking advantages. To learn more about these advantages, contact the alumni office at 717-867-6320.

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