Paula Kleniewski has been passionate about golf since she was seven years old. So when she became a doctor of physical therapy student at URI, she found a creative way to make her favorite sport part of her studies. That’s how Full Swing Golf Day, a program to provide a recreational outlet to children with disabilities, was born.
“The goal of the program is to raise awareness about children with disabilities, help them overcome physical limitations and social stigmas, and help them build confidence in themselves and their abilities,” Paula said.
The first Full Swing Golf Day, held at the Button Hole Golf Club in Providence and organized with the help of Paula’s fellow students Jillian Rebello and Kayla Whiting, was such a hit last year that it was expanded to include even more children this year. And it’s already having a significant effect on the children’s lives. One parent said that it increased his son’s self-confidence so much that the boy has asked to participate in several other sporting events. And the staff at Button Hole enjoys the event so much that they want to host it twice a year in the future.
This fall, Paula’s working at an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Florida, completing the first of three required 12-week clinical rotations for her degree. When she graduates in May, she’ll sit for her national board exam in July, and then hopefully find a job doing pediatric or orthopedic physical therapy. Along the way, she’ll probably play a little golf, too.