Therapeutic Recreation: Making fun more accessible

How do you get the most out of life? Well, that depends.

For some people, it’s reading a good book at the cottage. Some people like walking the dog. Some like golf. For other people, it’s X Games. Our ideas about recreation or leisure are personal, but what if there were some things that you didn’t have access to?

Camping in a wheelchair

Imagine you have a wheelchair, but you want to go camping. How would you get around a campground with dirt roads? Into the camp showers? Into your tent? Think about it. How does that even work? Well, it’s something that Kyra, a third-year Therapeutic Recreation (TR) student thought about when she was working for an RV company.

Kyra got the job because she was in the right place at the right time. She was talking to a customer at her part-time waitressing job. Her customer hadn’t heard of TR, but was totally intrigued when Kyra mentioned that TR students look at accessibility and mobility issues as part of their program.

Soon after, she was offered a part-time – and eventually full-time – job helping to design mobility-friendly RVs for older adults and people with disabilities.

Applied Health Science student measuring doorway for accessibility with a measuring tape.

Accessibility is all about finding ways to make life easier. Kyra had the chance to do just that, specifically for RVs.

Kyra advised on things like place of handles within vehicle, but she also looked at larger issues like which populations don’t camp, and why. “It was totally unexpected, but really interesting,” notes Kyra. “I got to apply a lot of what I learned in class, and I was still helping people have opportunities for a better quality of life.”

Or working with kids

“I’ve always known that I wanted to help people, especially people in vulnerable populations,” says Kyra.

Kyra was always interested in helping people. In high school, she volunteered with the Best Buddies of Canada. In her third year of TR, she did a practicum at Arts Abound and helped a non-verbal, four-year old with motor-function issues dance, and it solidified that TR is the right path for her.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to help people, especially people in vulnerable populations,” says Kyra.

Therapeutic Recreation (TR) helps people overcome barriers or adapt behaviour so each individual can fully participate in day-to-day life and leisure. TR professionals often work with special populations like older adults or children with disabilities.

It’s also a hands-on program; students leave with more than 600 hours of practical work experience, and are eligible to apply for registration with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario and for certification with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification in the United States.

Applied Health Student working on her laptop at the table inside an RV.

Is Therapeutic Recreation for you?

Do you like to help people? Make a difference in an individual’s life? Or maybe you want to have a bigger impact and create opportunities for people to enjoy the great outdoors. If you think TR might be for you, take Kyra’s advice.

“Start with a campus tour, but if you know you’re passionate about working in TR, Waterloo is the right spot. It’s well worth it, and the Rec student lounge is a great perk.”

Learn more about Therapeutic Recreation.


 
 
 

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