Feature Article - January 2005
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Success in Therapeutic Recreation

Developing programs that will grow

By Kelli Anderson


Having assessment and evaluation procedures in place are essential to identifying when accommodations aren't working.

"You have to start with a process to know when it breaks down," Miller says. "It's guesswork, otherwise." These essential procedures, however, need to be created with the cooperation and input from inclusion professionals and facility staff to avoid an "us and them" mentality. It allows everyone to understand who does what and how.

"Everyone having a say was huge," Miller observes of the cooperative effect in her experience with districts and the inclusion department. "Success is from a continual team process. And as it keeps evolving and shifting, we continue to revisit it."


Another way to keep evolving is to listen.

"We have to listen to what families tell us," McGovern says. "They have kids 24-7. We have to try to value the feedback families give us and use an inclusive team approach that includes the family, inclusion staff, school teachers and therapists."

And part of listening also is realizing that there is a time, place and need for special TR programming. Remember, 100-percent inclusion doesn't work 100 percent of the time. For some sports, such as wheelchair basketball, the point is to compete at a high level, not to be mainstreamed into a standup game. For some, such as the senior population, inclusion is a relatively new idea, and they may prefer therapeutic recreation in a more traditionally segregated setting.

Although 80 percent of disabled youth choose inclusive TR, there is the remaining 20 percent that don't. They may prefer to be with others like themselves who share similar interests.

In any case, noting the preferences and providing a choice for inclusive and special TR programming will help ensure that everyone can experience fun and recreation in a way that best meets their needs.

A Crash Course in Inclusion

Next September marks the NRPA's National Institute on Recreation Inclusion (NIRI). At the three-day institute in Palm Springs, Fla., these practical seven steps of the inclusion process will take center stage which, summarized, cover the following:

1. Inviting people with disabilities to register.

2. The registration process.

3. Assessing the needs of the individual.

4. The means of weighing assessment results.

5. The accommodation plan.

6. Training staff to do the accommodation.

7. Evaluating the accommodation results.

For more information, visit www.nrpa.org/content/default.aspx?documentid=881.