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Physical activity for some is good, physical activity for all is better

Student leader takes on second doctoral degree to fight for access to activity

Shortly after Winston Kennedy, DPT began practicing physical therapy in Florida, he became discouraged by the lack of physical activity opportunities for his patients with chronic health issues.

“It got to the point where the only physical activity many of my patients were getting was through physical therapy,” Winston says. “I wanted to know why this was and how it could be changed.”

In search of answers, Winston moved across the county to pursue his second doctoral degree — this time a PhD in kinesiology with an adapted physical activity concentration from the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

“My background as a physical therapist showed me that people may have limited access to opportunities for physical activity,” Winston says. “The adapted physical activity program at Oregon State is working toward finding answers to many of the questions I have and helping me provide potential solutions to try and solve this problem.”

“The medical field is not really concerned about physical activity opportunities for certain groups of people, but the adapted physical activity program wants to address just that,” he says.

Winston is already working toward his mission of improving access to physical activity.

As coordinator of the Oregon State Multiple Sclerosis Exercise Program, he leads undergraduate student volunteers as they assist individuals with MS engage in physical activity. 

two kinesiology student helping a women engage in adapted physical therapy

This summer, Winston also worked as a personal aide for Aidan Stroppel, who experiences epilepsy and is the son of CPHHS Marketing and Communications Director Kathryn Stroppel.

“Some of the best memories I have, from when I was Aidan’s age, are playing football with my friends and working with my coaches,” Winston says. “I’d love to provide that experience for him.” 

Aidan and Winston worked on life skills to promote independence. Activities ranged from playing various sports to practicing coming home from school and getting inside the home with his own key, Winston says.

“Being active has always been a huge part of my life and has helped propel me to where I am now,” he says. “Because of the impact physical activity has had on me, seeing how others may have limited access drives me to try to help.”

Winston says he is still formulating his dissertation topic, but it will address access to adapted physical activity. He plans to be an assistant professor at a university where he can continue this research.

adapted physical therapy for women with MS

“Upon acceptance to the graduate program, Dr. Kennedy was awarded a fellowship position through a U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Doctoral Training Grant,” says Assistant Professor Sam Logan, Winston’s advisor. “He has emerged as a promising and productive scholar, and as a leader within the graduate program. We look forward to Dr. Kennedy’s continued contributions and future success within the college, and beyond.”

More about Winston

Winston was named the 2019-20 recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Graduate Scholarship.

Last year, he served as a graduate representative in the ASOSU House of Representatives. This year, he will serve the Coalition of Graduate Employees as the executive council vice president of social justice. He also serves on the cultural and minority affairs committee for the Oregon Physical Therapy Association and is a student liaison for the Disability Section of the American Public Health Association. He continues to practice physical therapy in Oregon. 

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