One way to provide these individuals with recreational opportunities is through recreation therapy, which utilizes activities such as arts and crafts, dance, exercise and more to improve and maintain cognitive, physical and emotional functioning in order to facilitate full participation in life. The Therapeutic Recreation Services Division of the Department of Regional Parks is in the business of delivering recreation therapy, and they have been since 1975.
February is recognized as Recreation Therapy Month, and TRS is celebrating the role that recreation therapy has played in the lives of its participants and their families by sharing some of their testimonials.
Michael, a TRS participant
“It has taught me how to cook dinners and dessert. It’s taught me a lot about art and how did you paint. I feel good and happy when I go to the classes. They have taught me a lot.”
Delia, mother of a TRS participant
“TRS has been an incredible lifeline during this pandemic and highlighted more than ever for us the important place that TRS has in our lives and community! TRS provides social opportunities, but more importantly, skills for participating independently in day-to-day activities. For example, our son Don is a real jokester and enjoys being the life of the party. TRS has helped him learn more appropriate timing and engagement of his colorful personality so that he can more easily be included in the activities. This ability to more appropriately ‘gauge his audience’ has helped him understand how to better interact in day-to-day activities outside of TRS. He has a better understanding of when to joke around and when to focus on the task at hand.
“With the pandemic, TRS was the only interaction that Don had with the outside world - for months on end. Without this supportive loving interaction, Don would have fallen into a depression. We are all social creatures, however, Don is more than others. I am eternally grateful for the consistent, fun and most importantly loving community created by TRS.”
Roland, a TRS participant
“TRS has improved my life a lot. I have friends I communicate with. We play games we watch movies. We cook together. We have fun together. Before COVID, we went on trips to so many places.”
Cat, Roland’s mom
“As a person with autism, Roland has had a hard time finding a community for himself. TRS has given Roland a caring network. Roland has been a participant in TRS since 2008. It has enriched his life. TRS has also helped him express himself in different ways. Activities like “Art Your Heart Out,” and cooking class give him a sense of purpose and independence. I do my best to go to another part of the house so he can have a special time with his friends. He is so proud of his creations. During pre-COVID times, he rarely missed a TRS trip. It was so good for him to experience different places on his own with a supportive group of friends.”
Suzy, mother of a TRS participant
“TRS is comprised of staff and friends that are like family to my 15-year-old daughter. My daughter enjoys socializing during game nights, art class, camps, cooking class and other virtual get-togethers. She is gaining valuable life skills and learning about the world and her community in a safe space. Since my daughter has joined TRS, I have seen a significant increase in her self-esteem and confidence.”
Maurice, a TRS participant
“TRS provides a great variety of Virtual Programs each month.”
Denise, mother of a TRS participant
“Since joining the TRS cooking sessions, my daughter is less fearful and more confident when preparing meals at home. She is more willing to try new dishes with different ingredients, which she refused to eat in the past. She is very proud to share the meals she cooks with her family and friends.”
Martha, mother of a TRS participant
“I have started standing back and letting Kiyoshi do most of the cooking alone. He’s doing pretty well. We’re both learning so much!”
TRS programs focus on abilities while encouraging people to attain their highest level of independent leisure functioning by increasing leisure skills, improving social skills, increasing independence and increasing their awareness of and involvement in community recreational activities.