When Brenda Huey ’12 was seven years old, she tried gymnastics for the first time and after spending a year and a half in the gym, her and her parents discovered it wasn’t a good fit for her. She remained active and sought a healthy lifestyle, through her undergraduate years at California State University, San Francisco and continues that lifestyle today.
She reflected on her first experience as an undergraduate student volunteering abroad and working with patients in need of physical therapy. Huey spent a month in India in 2008 as part of an international volunteer program where she spent her time between the town’s only physical therapy clinic and on home visits to children with neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injuries.
“It was an eye opener for me because there was so much need in that community yet the services were limited to one clinic,” commented Huey. “I realized I wanted to work in healthcare, especially with children, and work in a field where I can support patients and help them facilitate their movement,” added Huey.
While completing her undergraduate studies, Huey got a second chance at gymnastics by becoming a preschool gymnastics teacher at Gymtowne Gymnastics. Although she didn’t return as a gymnast, she helped those around her master it and use the sport as a foundation to help children improve their movement skills. After graduation, Huey continued to teach gymnastics part-time and began working full-time at a pediatric physical therapy clinic taking on the role of clinic and aquatic therapy aide and teacher for the clinic’s Early Intervention program.
Just recently Huey, with support from Dr. Todd Davenport and nearly 50 Department of Physical Therapy faculty and students, organized Perfect 10 at GymStars Gymnastics in Stockton to promote the importance and benefits of having physically active lifestyles for children with special developmental needs. The event was funded by First 5 of San Joaquin and was so successful it maxed out their occupancy at more than 20 children from the community.
Her goal was to return to San Francisco after graduation, but after organizing Perfect 10 she is considering staying and continuing her work in Stockton. “San Francisco has many resources for children with special developmental needs and smaller cities like Stockton don’t. I’d like to stay in a community where the resources are low and make a difference” said Huey.
She hopes that Perfect 10 will inspire others to help the community and that peers will continue to grow the event for many years to come. Huey also encourages other students to get involved and become advocates for change to allow patients to receive services beyond treatment in the clinic. She says much of what she has been able to accomplish is because she is part of a program where faculty are invested in her professional and personal goals. “Talking and getting to know faculty members and allowing them to get to know you is important” she mentioned.
When she is not in class or organizing programs to benefit the community, Huey is enjoying rock climbing, practicing muay-thai, or training for marathons. She just completed the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco in October.
By Dua Her '09