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A special Physical Therapist Assistant program helps area seniors stay healthy

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Jacque Steeno poses in a "Keep Stepping" t-shirt with NWTC staff members and instructors
Jacque Steeno poses in a "Keep Stepping" t-shirt with NWTC staff members and instructors

According to the National Institutes of Health, how the musculoskeletal system ages directly impacts the quality and length of a person's life. To help our community enjoy a healthy lifestyle well into retirement, the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) students at NWTC partner with community seniors to run the Keep Stepping program. For over a decade and a half, PTA students have led the Keep Stepping program to share their knowledge and skills with community volunteers to help them stay in shape and work towards wellness goals.  

Keep Stepping was created to meet the needs of adults aged 60 and older through physical activity, health promotion, and educational activities. PTA students carry out the Keep Stepping program under the direction and supervision of licensed Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistant faculty.  

“This unique partnership is one of the longest standing service-learning projects in the Health Sciences and Education department and at the College,” said Dean of Health Sciences and Education Scott Anderson.   

Participants meet bi-weekly with PTA students to work toward overall health and wellness goals. Every Monday and Wednesday morning, participants come to the Green Bay campus to go through exercises, exams, and progress checks. Over the 8-week session, PTA students document progress, practice different exercises and interventions, and gain valuable experience interacting with patients in a clinical setting.   

Jacque Steeno, a 90-year-old participant, has been part of the Keep Stepping program since now retired NWTC Gerontology instructor Julie Siefert started it in 2008. Steeno has been a long-time health advocate, working as a physical education teacher, starting the Learn to Swim program in Green Bay, and serving as a peer instructor for the Aging & Disability Resource Center’s Stepping On program – a precursor to Keep Stepping

“This program helps students get excited about their career and practice their skills with a demographic they usually do not get volunteers for,” said Steeno.   

Steeno is an active participant who has seen the benefits of the Keep Stepping program for over a decade. When asked why she keeps doing it, her answer was simple:   

“I want to stay active, and it lets me do it with all my friends.”  

To learn more about our Physical Therapist Assistant program or how you or a loved one can volunteer to participate in the Keep Stepping program, contact NWTC Physical Therapist Assistant instructor Leah Smejkal ( 

Learn more about our Physical Therapist Assistant program!
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