Feature Article - March 2004
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Play With a Purpose

Understanding therapeutic recreation and how it can work for you

By Elisa Kronish

Involving staff allows people to take ownership of decisions that might affect their jobs. Involving community members opens you up to some potentially rewarding ideas.

For example, in 1998, a woman in the Fairfax, Va., area received a grant for a program she called Project Success, which teams up teenagers with and without disabilities to participate in community service together.

"Since then, the grant has gone, but there's been other money to keep it going," Braff says. The rewards were experienced on all sides. Not only have the teens put in 80,000 hours of community service, but their work has demonstrated to the community that they accept and value individuals with disabilities, Braff says.

"One of the benefits I didn't even realize is that the program has turned into an employee training ground for us," he says.

Besides the benefits of TR programming for people with disabilities, as well as the positive feelings you, your staff and the community can gain from it, your facility's bottom line is bound to get a boost.

"There's a lot of business out there for facilities that want to serve more people," Johnson says. The demand for TR programming is growing, and the effort toward implementation is minimal. Consider ways it can work for your facility, and soon enough you'll be smooth sailing beyond just accessibility and toward a truly inclusive facility.


There are plenty of experts and advocates who can answer questions, offer suggestions and support your mission to develop or increase therapeutic recreation services at your facility.

Here are just a few of those resources:

  • American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), 703-683-9420 or visit www.atra-tr.org

  • National Therapeutic Recreation Society (NTRS), a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association, 703-858-0784 or visit www.nrpa.org (click on "Branches")

  • National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), 845-639-1439 or visit www.nctrc.org Therapeutic Recreation Directory, www.recreationtherapy.com

  • National Center on Accessibility, 812-856-4422 or visit www.ncaonline.org

  • Midwest Symposium on Therapeutic Recreation (April 19 to 21, 2004), 573-882-4038 or visit www.muconf.missouri.edu/midwest_symposium