At Now I Can we are blessed to have an army of intelligent and dedicated students from our local universities work as volunteer therapy aides. They are a crucial part of our therapy team. We are happy to hear from Tori–who is an excellent aide and well-loved by the kids!

My name is Tori Phillips. I am from Sacramento, California, I am fifth of 8 kids, and I’m a student at BYU studying Exercise and Wellness. I love volleyball, and I have a passion for service. These are all things about me, but they are also all things that led me to Now I Can. I’ve only been volunteering at Now I Can for a short time, but I have already had so many precious experiences. I have had the opportunity to work with skilled therapists, caring leaders, and most importantly, some pretty amazing and inspiring kids.

I wanted to share with you 3 lessons I’ve learned in my time at Now I Can. The first lesson is that every second counts. At Now I Can we utilize an intensive approach to physical therapy–meaning instead of getting 45 minutes of therapy once or twice a week, the kids that come to Now I Can get the attention of trained therapists for 4 full hours and they get it 5 days a week!

I worked at a traditional physical therapy clinic previously and the work they did there for post-operative patients with orthopedic therapies was great. However, the pediatric therapies they attempted, especially for kids with neuro-muscular disabilities, didn’t hold a candle to the kind of progress and functionality that I have seen at Now I Can in 5 short weeks. I  love seeing how the kids at Now I Can make leaps and bounds in their progress toward their full potential and greater independence.

The next lesson I’ve learned  is that all my professors were right. Despite my immense pride and the fact that I very frequently thought that I knew better than the old fogies blabbering on at the front of the lecture hall–my professors taught me some very important and practical knowledge. (I’m speaking of two professors in particular Professor George and Professor Tucker). Sometimes it was hard to be an Exercise and Wellness major because many of my peers and professors had extreme views on fitness, nutrition, and health. I’ve always considered myself to be a realist and found that I was skeptical of  holistic methods as well as the extreme modernist medicines and technologies. I’ve learned that there can be merit to either approach depending on the situation and the individual. These two professors, although very different, taught me the age old lesson “don’t knock it till you try it!” While some of the therapies I saw being used at Now I Can were very strange to me at first, every time I’ve had a skeptical thought I’ve been thoroughly proven wrong.

The last lesson I’ve learned while volunteering at Now I Can is that children are precious. Now, I’ve had a lot of experience with kids in the past. I have 3 younger sisters, and I started babysitting when I was 13.  I’ve been a counselor for numerous summer camps and preschool groups, I’ve been a tutor, and I’ve always had a desire to someday, be a mommy to precious children of my own.

I can’t say enough times or emphatically enough how grateful I am for the opportunity I have at Now I Can to work alongside some of sweetest kids you’ve ever seen! These kids are all fighters. From day one they struggle and they continue to overcome challenges and trials that, personally, I would totally fail at. These kids are amazing and they truly have some of the best stories. The very first kid I got to work with at Now I Can was Easton, and what a privilege that was. Easton is a happy and energetic kid. He constantly smiles and loved playing and interacting with the therapist and myself. Easton’s progression to using his walker unaided was the first big milestone that I got to see.

At the end of one of his sessions we had him pack up his bag and get to his walker so he could bring it to his Mom in the front room. As we turned the corner we came face to face with Easton’s Mom and she was amazed. She dropped her bags and exclaimed that she had never seen him walk so well! The proud and happy feeling I had while I watched Easton walk to his Mother, waiting with her arms outstretched, isn’t something that I can quite describe fully, but it was a turning point for me. It opened my eyes to all the good that happens at Now I Can and how we get to change lives for the better every day.