If Long Beach and northern Orange County seem more relaxed than usual, it may be because Glenda Walker and her American Career College students have been offering so many helping hands.
In the last couple of months, Walker’s students in ACC’s massage therapy program have fanned out to numerous community events near the school’s Anaheim campus, offering free massages in forums that have ranged from a Teacher Appreciation Day at Anaheim’s Loara High School to a Make A Wish Foundation fundraiser in Irvine to the Long Beach Grand Prix.
“It brings an awareness to our program,” says Walker, who is massage therapy program director at ACC’s Anaheim campus. “It shows people that massage is a viable way for them to maintain their health and support themselves when they have injuries. And people love it.”
For example, she says, when 29 of her students volunteered last month to treat the Federally Employed Women at Long Beach Veterans’ Hospital to free massages, 119 people showed up. In February, massage therapy students sacrificed their own “student appreciation day” to collect teddy bears for patients at Long Beach Children’s Hospital.
“People are always so impressed by our students’ professionalism, and always ask for their business cards,” Walker says. At Loara High School, she says, several ACC students who had grown up in the area got to give massages to their old high school teachers this month, “and the activities director said he’d need gotten so many thank you notes.”
Walker, who was named to her current post in January, says she’s looking ahead now to more volunteer events for the students, including some for cancer patients.
“It will help our students learn empathy and nurturing,” she says, “and I think the patients will get a lot out of it, too.”