Community Engagement

SHHS in the Community

Indianapolis is more than the School of Health & Human Sciences’ home. Our state capitol is an academic asset that sets us apart from other universities. From clinical rotations to staging large-scale meetings and events to volunteering with nonprofits, SHHS students take advantage of Indy’s big-city offerings and its small-town feel.

That’s why SHHS students say they study, “where Indy is our classroom.” Students are integrated into the city, learning from practitioners in four of the state’s leading hospitals, leaders of top-tier convention service providers, and managers of mega sporting events. They are immersed in service learning as part of their curriculum, completing required internships, service hours, and clinical rotations. When they matriculate, they do so with more than knowledge gleaned from faculty in the classroom. They also have the beginnings of a professional network and resumes chock full of practical experiences, giving them a distinct career advantage.

SHHS faculty are catalysts for these key community connections. They realize that students need to ease into real-world practice, and they offer opportunities for students to safely study in supervised settings. Coursework and school-led initiatives give students confidence and experience working in groups or one-on-one with clients. Faculty oversee their efforts and ensure client objectives are achieved.

David Pierce leads the Sports Innovation Institute and partners with sports organizations like the Indianapolis Colts.

At the helm of one of the school’s three institutes, David Pierce (right), Ph.D., works with premier sports entities like the Indianapolis Colts to conduct research, solve real-world problems, and give students a career edge through active learning.

With INShape IUPUI, Physically Active Residential Communities and Schools, and student outreach clinics, students work directly with clients to evaluate their health, establish goals, and provide exercise prescriptions and intervention strategies. They work directly with individuals to help them manage negative health indicators and achieve wellness goals. Most clients are low-income Indianapolis residents who have limited resources available to manage their health. SHHS students gain valuable experience while delivering much-needed services to people.

Similarly, the school’s GoBabyGo program pairs physical therapy students with students from the School of Engineering and Technology. Together, they provide children who have cognitive and motor development delays with vehicles that are individually designed to help navigate their environments. This population truly benefits from the school’s help, because 56 percent of people with disabilities do not engage in physical activity. 

The school’s Adapted Movement Programs also work to mitigate this statistic by placing kinesiology students with children and adults who have disabilities or limited mobility. Clients learn to maximize their physical abilities while gaining confidence and increasing their independence. Kinesiology students simultaneously discover ways to work effectively with this special population.

Kinesiology students provide exercise prescription to community members.

SHHS students are service-learning leaders, investing more than 114,000 hours annually to better individuals and enhance quality of life in Indianapolis.

Dietetic interns demonstrate heart-healthy meal prep and work with community partners like Gleaners.

Beyond these experiences, SHHS students can be found at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, staffing the social media command center during the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. Students can be seen with Indianapolis Public Schools’ children, helping them train to run in Beyond Monumental’s annual 5K race.

They volunteer at the Indianapolis State Fair, survey fan experiences at Lucas Oil Stadium, consult with patients at Eskenazi Health’s Grassy Creek facility, tailor nutritional education at Gleaners, work with cancer survivors at the Indiana Cancer Wellness Center, and more.

Whether it’s the healthcare environment, schools or fitness centers, big-name sports tournaments, or blockbuster events, SHHS students are there, savoring the city while contributing to community wellness and quality of life.