Party, picnic or plain old soccer match, whatever you want to call it, students in the School of Health Professions literally had a ball to start the fall semester at the University of Kansas Medical Center, taking part in the inaugural SHP Student Kickoff Event, which was highlighted by a Bubble Soccer tournament featuring teams from five of the school's departments.
On a picture perfect afternoon, Murphy Courtyard was transformed into a soccer pitch and picnic playground on Sept. 6 as students donned giant plastic bubble suits to take part in a soccer tournament as part of the academic school year kickoff sponsored by the Office of the Dean and the School of Health Professions Student Senate. Billed as "No lectures; No exams; and No homework," students and faculty were treated to an afternoon of picnic food fresh off the grill and casual conversation as party music played over a public address system set up for the event as bubble warriors bounced off each other on the soccer pitch.
"It was nice to see the impressive turnout and watch the camaraderie and enjoyment between students, staff and faculty of the school," said Abiodun Akinwuntan, Ph.D., MPH, MBA, dean of the School of Health Professions, who scored a goal from long range on a nifty chip shot over the defense while playing for the Department of Nurse Anesthesia Education team. "Congratulations to all participants in the Bubble Soccer event, particularly to the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science team for emerging as champions."
The idea for a party to kick off the new academic year came from Anne Walker, executive officer in Office of the Dean of the School of Health Professions. She said it builds off last year's Collaboration Forum, where all the students and faculty from the school's eight departments and three certificate programs met on the Edwards campus for a day of interprofessional sharing, communication and collaboration.
"Because our school represents such a wide variety of health care professions, students value the opportunity to meet their counterparts from other SHP programs," Walker said. "What better way to do that than suit up in a giant bubble and slam into one another?"
The notion to incorporate a Bubble Soccer event came from Adres de Avila, a Clinical Laboratory Science Department student, during a Meet-the-Dean Luncheon last spring.
"Playing Bubble Soccer with my friends and all of the students was a great experience," de Avila said. "What I enjoyed most, though, was seeing my suggestion materialize into a Bubble Soccer tournament after making the suggestion during a meeting with the dean. Dean Akinwuntan really listens to his students."
Eight five-member teams signed on to take part in the tournament. They included three teams from the Department of Occupational Therapy Education, two from Clinical Laboratory Science and one each from Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, Nurse Anesthesia and Health Information Management.
In the end, a team from the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science stormed its way past a team from the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science to claim the coveted three-headed dragon trophy.
Speaking on behalf of the winners, Todd Unmack quipped, "We came. We bubbled. We conquered."