California State University, Northridge physical therapy students who were recipients of scholarships from a partnership between the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and the Roy and Roxie Campanella Foundation gave a helping hand on April 20 to middle school students at Elysian Park in the shadow of Dodger Stadium. And then on April 27, the CSUN students were recognized on the field at Dodger Stadium in a pregame ceremony.
“The Dodgers have really extended a hand of friendship to CSUN by continuing to fund these students.” said Aimie Kachingwe, CSUN physical therapy professor and physical therapy consultant for CSUN athletics.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) partners with the Campanella Foundation to administer the scholarship to CSUN physical therapy students. The scholarship is named in honor of Roy Campanella, the Hall of Fame catcher who was paralyzed in 1958 but through physical therapy was able to regained enough mobility so that he could work in community relations for the organization and be a Spring Training instructor. Since 2005, the Campanella and Los Angeles Dodgers foundations have awarded scholarships to CSUN physical therapy students.
“To see these kids who are part of this physical therapy program (and) to reward them with some funds to help support them in their program is just great for both organizations,” said David Brennan, senior director of programs and fundraising for the LADF.
CSUN physical therapy students/Campanella scholars lined up on the first-base line at Dodger Stadium on April 27 and received recognition before the game. One student in particular found the experience to be not only rewarding, but very personal.
Graduating physical therapy student Joshua Hawkins grew up in the shadows of Dodger Stadium in Eagle Rock. He played baseball growing up and was a catcher – like Campanella.
“For me it’s a tremendous privilege,” Hawkins said. “There’s a personal significance as well as professional significance.”
Joni Campanella-Roan, daughter of Roy Campanella, was present and could feel all the pride her parents would have felt in the recognition of these students.
“My parents would be so excited just to know that (CSUN is) producing so many qualified physical therapy students to get out there in the world and doing something that they thought was so meaningful and important to them,” Campanella-Roan said.
A week before, on April 20, the same physical therapy students were doing something meaningful for Los Angeles-area students. They gave back to the Dodgers Foundation by creating an exercise program for an after-school program called Learning Enrichment After-School Program (LEAP).
Kachingwe challenged the students to create a program most applicable to children, something that would excite them and relate to their daily lives. The children were able to learn different types of exercises and health-related education through station-to-station activities that rotated every couple minutes.
“The realization of what you can do and the difference you can make has a big impact,” Kachingwe said. “It drives them to what they want to do.”
For the CSUN physical therapy students, the opportunity to learn a certain skill set, apply it to a program and see results from children was gratifying.
“The most rewarding part of the event was seeing the translation of our hard work and planning being translated into smiles and enjoyment, ” Hawkins said.