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Bradford friends, classmates co-recipients of kinesiology award

The CCUPEKA award is given out annually, recognizing leadership, academic success, and commitment to the kinesiology profession
Dominique Matthews and Caitlyn Gerry are co-recipients of the prestigious CCUPEKA leadership award at Acadia University where they recently graduated from the Kinesiology program

Two Bradford women were recently recognized by Acadia University with the Canadian Council of University Physical Education and Kinesiology Administrators (CCUPEKA) award. 

The leadership award is given out annually to graduating students of Kinesiology and Physical Education programs at member universities to recognize leadership, academic success, and commitment to their professions. 

Dominique (Nikki) Matthews and Caitlyn Gerry were surprised to hear both their names called as co-recipients of the award at their graduation ceremony last week in Nova Scotia. 

"Nikki is so deserving of the award, I was so happy to hear that she was a co-recipient," said Gerry. 

"It was exciting, I was happy about it," added Matthews. "It was funny because Caitlyn's name was announced first, so then when my name was also announced we both laughed because we are both from Bradford, and no one knows where Bradford is (in Nova Scotia)." 

The recent graduates have been friends since elementary school, competing together at Jennings School of Karate, playing soccer with the Bradford Eagles team and attending Bradford District High School. 

"We did everything together, it was fun," said Matthews. 

When the pair were both accepted to the Kinesiology program at Acadia four years ago, their friendship extended into their post-secondary careers.

"We were in all of the same classes, and we went into different streams, but we were always very friendly as the 'Bradford gone East-Coasters," said Gerry. 

While Gerry chose athletic therapy as her mainstream of study at the school, Matthews kept her focus on adapted physical activity. 

Matthews was recognized for her volunteer work with the school's SMILE (Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience) program, which works to create adapted activities for those with disabilities through individual education programs encompassing activities that improve strength, endurance, flexibility and enhance the development of body and spatial awareness.

"Adapting physical activities is a versatile thing that can be done for age groups or injuries," explained Matthews.

Matthews works with all ages and demographics and enjoys working with the program participants. 

"It's so fun, it's an inclusive and supportive environment," said Matthews. 

Over the years at Acadia, Gerry served as both president and vice president of the kinesiology program's student society where she launched a new mentorship program. The program has third and fourth-year students pair up with first and second-year students helping them to navigate their way through the four-year kinesiology program. Gerry also worked alongside the women's rugby and men's hockey teams in athletic therapy. 

"Being at a small school there are so many opportunities to get involved, and I was just fortunate that all those opportunities I took advantage of really helped me develop as a student, as a person, and as a professional and it was just so nice to be recognized for my involvement, and specifically for my leadership within the school," said Gerry. "The school has left such an impact on me and it's nice to know that I have also left an impact on the school too."

Matthews is currently working at the university, assisting with research for the SMILE volunteer program, and will be working with participants again once it starts back up again in the fall. She is also looking at the possibility of also pursuing her Master's Degree next year. 

Gerry will be staying in Nova Scotia for the next year, working in athletic therapy. With Acadia becoming the ninth accredited institution by the CATA (Canadian Athletic Therapists Association), Gerry is excited to be able to take the national exam next year to become a Certified Athletic Therapist.