February is Recreation Therapy Month
February is International Recreation Therapy Month, and here at Bradford Woods we are very proud that we get the opportunity to serve many different groups of people with Recreation Therapy services. According to the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, “Recreation Therapy is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recover and well-being.” Bradford Woods has 3 full-time Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS), one part-time CTRS and two full-time staff members currently studying to become Recreation Therapists. In our programming we serve children and adults with physical diagnosis(yesss!!!) and chronic illnesses, veterans and their families, youth learning about healthy living and nutrition, families deemed at-risk working towards healthier family cohesion and so much more.
This year’s theme for Recreation Therapy Month is, “My ability is stronger than my disability,” and this is something that we believe in our core here at Bradford Woods. One of the many programs we serve in our Recreation Therapy department is our summer camp program for children with disabilities and chronic illnesses. One of our philosophies here at camp is something we call “The 3 E’s: Empathy, Engagement and Empowerment.” At Bradford Woods we focus on what our campers CAN DO! Where can the limits be pushed? How can we adapt the activities so that everyone can participate? In what ways can our campers ACHIEVE? One of the best days at camp is our weekly Challenge Day.
Challenge Day is when our campers pick challenges that they want to achieve. It might be to climb to the top of the Alpine Tower, swim across the lake with a counselor, learn how to tie one’s shoes independently, or everyone’s favorite, climb Cardiac Hill! On Challenge Day we focus on the strength that each of our campers possess and we empower them to achieve these goals. Then we can focus on what can happen outside of camp. Maybe tryout for the basketball team, begin looking at colleges that will meet accessibility needs or work towards getting that dream job. We want our campers to dream big and know their worth!
A camper who graduated from camp a few years ago gave a moving speech about her years at camp and what Camp Riley meant to her. She told us, “When I am [at Camp Riley], the only thing that this wheelchair does is take me from place to place. It doesn’t define me here…” We hope to continue to show our campers and every person that steps on property that the only thing that defines them is themselves.
If you are interested in working with our Recreation Therapy Summer Camp program over the summer or you know of a child who could benefit from coming to camp, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our website at www.bradwoods.org/rectherapy.