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Murphy Teaches Physical Therapy ߝ in Peruvian Andes

Village Empowerment Trip Includes Student Projects

Physical Therapy Asst. Prof. Deirdra Murphy (standing, second from the left) with children and staff at a clinic in Peru.

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Asst. Prof. Deirdra Murphy of the Physical Therapy Department in the School of Health and Environment (SHE) has provided services and led workshops in many community settings. Few have been so remote, though, as the small villages she visited in the Peruvian Andes this past summer. 

Murphy joined Prof. John Duffy of the Mechanical Engineering Department as he led one of the biannual site visits that are part of the Village Empowerment Project. Village Empowerment is a long-term service-learning project that engages students, faculty and volunteers in designing and installing sustainable infrastructure systems in a series of villages high above the coastal city of Huarmey. The project was a finalist for the 2007 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration.
SHE nursing students participated in a prior visit, but this was Murphy’s first trip. While there, she presented adaptive play equipment that had been designed by physical therapy and mechanical engineering students as a joint service-learning project, and donated equipment that had been collected by physical therapy students. Murphy conducted physical therapy for 32 children and their families, and held workshops for teachers at a special education school.

“The experience was awesome and changed how I think about service, putting it in a global context,” says Murphy. “It was a wonderful learning experience ߝ working with John Duffy and his students, learning about the Peruvian people and culture and, ultimately, becoming a more effective teacher and facilitator of learning for my students.”

The trip was supported in part by a Healey Grant to Murphy, Duffy and Assoc. Prof. Nicole Champagne of the Community Health and Sustainability Department.