Most students are drawn to massage therapy training because of an innate desire to help others. Rigorous study and practical experience produces graduates adept in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal pain, offering relief from the symptoms of disease, everyday stress - and everything in between. In addition to their motivation to help and heal, MTs are committed to and guided by a code of ethics that always puts patient wellbeing first. From novice to expert, massage therapists are continually looking for new techniques to help their clients feel healthier and happier. Given the emphasis on serving others, it’s not surprising that many MTs seek out humanitarian applications of their skills - ways to provide care to those who cannot access treatment on their own. From local initiatives to global organizations, there are many ways to get involved as a volunteer massage therapist, generating positive change through the healing powers of touch.
Registered massage therapist and OVCMT alumna, Angela Morris was inspired to share her gifts with those less fortunate. A campus visit and talk given by Yvonne Poulin, founder of the humanitarian organization, The African Touch, was truly a life-changing event for Morris. The African Touch is a massage therapy project that brings professional training to some of Nairobi’s most disadvantaged residents. A registered Canadian charity and non-profit, the organization strives to help locals gain the training and experience required to become employed MTs, working in chiropractic clinics, ayurvedic health clinics, hotels and spas, all of which are plentiful throughout the larger cities. Morris now advocates for visibility and funding for The African Touch, having found her calling as a humanitarian MT.
Another way massage therapists can volunteer their time and talents is at local fundraising events. For example, the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation hosts sporting initiatives like bike rides and golf tournaments in support of research. From Vancouver to Halifax, yearly fundraisers present MTs with opportunities to get involved by offering free massages to participants. Typically, volunteer MTs will administer sports massages and assist with mobility through stretching exercises - doing their part to support the endurance of participants and the overall success of the event.
Graduates of massage college with humanitarian aspirations can also find meaningful volunteer opportunities at local hospitals. Many hospitals collaborate with charitable organizations such as Leucan, which offers massage therapy to complement medical treatment for patients suffering from cancer. As trained MTs know, massage can provide valuable pain reduction and stress relief for people coping with illness. And often, several programs (including Leucan) extend their services to the families of patients in order to support their role as caregivers.
MTs interested in getting involved with local educational initiatives might consider volunteering with organizations like British Columbia’s Friends for Life program. In collaborations with schools, Friends for Life helps students develop healthy coping strategies for stress and anxiety. Working with young people, MTs leverage opportunities to spread awareness about the important role massage plays in managing stress and promoting optimal health at any stage in life.
What humanitarian projects are you drawn to as a massage therapist?