The group when they met at the WCPT Congress in Vancouver. Back from left: Jennifer Sayers, Hazel Dreyer, Sue Keays. Joan Walker, Vivien Cohen, Marilyn Freedman, Bev Fanarof, Karin Saltman, Anne Salant

Class of 1969 set to reunite in Cape Town

Physical therapists from the 1969 class at the University of the Witwatersrand will celebrate a fifth reunion when they meet once more at the WCPT Congress.

The group, including Sue Keays, Marilyn Freedman, Jenny Sayer and Jenny Crocker, have previously reunited at WCPT Congresses in Washington, Barcelona, Vancouver and Amsterdam. At each meeting they have been greeted by Emeritus Professor Joan Walker, a past  recipient of WCPT’s Mildred Elson Award, who was the group’s teacher and mentor before they graduated.

This year the class of 1969 made a major donation to the WCPT Congress bursary programme, which has raised funds for delegates who may not otherwise be able to attend. They are looking forward to meeting the recipients in Cape Town.

"We wanted to give back to a profession that has given us so much," says Sue Keays. "Our class of 1969 was excited to enable physiotherapists, particularly from Africa, to share in the richness of knowledge and experience that the WCPT Congress brings."

Keays, who lives and works on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, has presented papers at five different WCPT congresses. This year she will present one paper and one poster in Cape Town.

"A WCPT Congress is an enriching experience for any delegate, young or old," she says. "It provides an opportunity to learn, network, appreciate a variety of issues across borders and the dynamic nature of our profession."

The class of 1969 spread out to work internationally, with members travelling back to Cape Town from New York and Vancouver, as well as Australia. Of 12 in the original class, two still live and work in South Africa. For Keays, this brings a new dimension to this year’s event.

"Everyone leaves a WCPT Congress with new ideas and new possibilities for practice, especially if they attend a pre- or post-congress course. Congress provides the opportunity to take improved treatments back to our communities, and to share knowledge when teaching other physiotherapists.

"This reinforces our main goal: to strive for excellence each day, with each and every patient we treat. The WCPT Congress leaves you inspired to search for and answer questions, to invest in research and to become a forward-thinking physiotherapist. It raises the physiotherapy bar."

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