PEK Fosters Holistic Health, Wellness and Promotes Community Service

By, Lauren Raziano, Social Media Editor

As Kinesiology’s Department Honor Society, Phi Epsilon Kappa (PEK) is ready to promote holistic health and wellness on campus. PEK is the national professional fraternity for physical education and related career fields at Manhattan College.

PEK was founded in 1913 as a male-dominated establishment then became more inclusive in the 1970s when more women started to join. Manhattan College received its charter for the Alpha Eta chapter in 1943.

The current PEK cabinet consists of president Peter Calicchia, a senior exercise science major, vice president Zachary Olivan, secretary Domenick Boccia and sergeant of arms Ryan Tierney.

The requirements to be inducted into the honors society is that students must have completed at least two semesters and hold a GPA minimum of 3.2. One of the contributing characteristics PEK looks for in new members is motivated individuals.

“One of the biggest things for PEK in terms of the initiative is to seek out student leaders in the health field,” Olivan said. “So, if you’re a student leader and you show initiative through leadership and service to the community, then you know things like GPA can be worked around.”

PEK is heavily focused on service events because health careers are focused on service to others.

“As PEK, we’re in exercise careers and our health professionals are physical therapy, occupational therapy, dance recreation, physical education, those are mainly service and selfless serving other people,” Calicchia said. “It’s a people’s profession.”

According to manhattan. edu, “As part of [PEK’s] community service, the Alpha Eta chapter sponsors the annual Manhattan College Games. These games provide athletic competition to children with disabilities not eligible for the Special Olympics.” They are hoping to hold this event sometime this year but it may be restricted due to COVID precautions.

One of the events they held this past semester was “Tattoos of Remembrance” with the mission Answer the Call for the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

“Answer the Call is to help widowed family members of active service who are affected and 9/11,” Boccia said. “So if you had lost your husband or wife, spouse or family member in 9/11 this foundation raises money and helps support your family after.”

For Answer the Call, they offered 0.5 points to those in PEK who took a photo and posted it tagging PEK to raise awareness for the mission and for remembrance for those who were lost.

“We set up a table to hand out these tattoos, which said ‘Answer the Call’ and I believe we signed two cards to bring down to the fire departments nearby to show our remembrance and our acknowledgement of their services,” Tierney said.

PEK also held events during Mental Health Awareness Week and for Suicide Prevention Week.

“We also did a suicide prevention web, it’s still hanging outside and it’s the concept of you sign it and write a inspiring message,” Calicchia said. “It is to post on social media and show support because of the mental and visual aspect as an overall holistic approach to mental health.”

The entire PEK Cabinet was inducted into the Epsilon Sigma Pi Honor’s Society. @MANHATTAN_PEK / COURTESY

Members of PEK also participated in the Zero Prostate Cancer Walk and the Byrnes Memorial Walk.

“We’re kinesiology so we’re more involved in Exercise and Health so walks are a good way to get the group together, build some kinesiology family dynamics and also keep up active,” Calicchia said. “We raised over $100 for the Zero Prostate Cancer Walk for prostate research.”

These PEK events are meant as a way to encourage members to be inherently driven to be active in community events.

“We want to instill in people at the undergraduate career that service is important and you don’t want to be forced, you want to be intrinsically motivated,” Calicchia said. “People are going to come and do these events because they want to do it and not because they have to do it as a point value.” said Calicchia.

Calicchia wants members to be involved in other extracurricular activities that promote holistic health and wellness.

“Everything goes back to the service aspect, you’ve dedicated some of your time to help other people that are exercise inclined and you help guide them with social support and motivation and instruction and feedback, to get them to achieve their goals and be there in any way you can,” Calicchia said.

PEK is also collaborating with Jasperfit Mentors and the new club “Exercise Is Medicine On Campus” (EIM-OC) to promote physical activity on campus. They have created a schedule of the various events such as walking groups, yoga and mixed martial arts that can be found on Instagram.

“I think it’s important also to note that the majority of PEK members are also Jasper Fit mentors,” Tierney said. “So not only are we promoting activity, all of our members are also helping out other students as a mentor. I think it’s important to show that the kinesiology department is very close, and we do everything together, and it’s very, very heartwarming to me.” Tierney said.

Two alums, Will Stallings and Elizabeth McCabe, gave talks to current PEK members. McCabe is a current student in Iowa University’s Masters program for athletic training, working as an ATC in an Indianapolis Firehouse. Stalling was a previous Manhattan Track and field athlete, a former Exercise science major, and is currently studying Podiatric Medicine at New York College of Podiatric Medicine (NYCPM).

“We have had two information sessions on graduate schools,” Boccia said. “This is offered to everyone, so anyone can come to listen to students who have gone to grad school, hear their story and hopefully it gives them some insight on what works. We help out people in the pre-health profession find their careers.”

Olivan says having alumni present to current students is a win-win situation.

“By inviting these alumni and we not only give the students an opportunity to learn more about the career field but it also gives the alumni to share and give a little background on their own personal experience and and help with their presentation and public speaking skills so it’s a win win situation for both our current students and those who graduated,” Olivan said.

While PEK is heavily connected to their graduated alumni from Manhattan College, they currently don’t have national involvement with other kinesiology health departments. This is something that the executive board is looking forward to fostering but they are limited due to lack of funding.

“That would be something to look forward to in coming years and to potentially plan,” Olivan said. “I know one thing that we struggle with is that we don’t have a budget, so it’s hard to schedule and plan those national events without having funding, which is something that we have been working out for years now are trying to at least.”

Finally, as the honors kinesiology honors society, PEK strives to have long-lasting members who strive to promote positivity into their community.

“We’re trying to instill that idea that service is a part of our profession, of who we are as individuals,” Calicchia said. “I think that’s something we like to push forward in PEK, that you do it because you want to serve the people you want [them to] smile, you want to make an impact in their life.”