Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Therapeutic Recreation program continues to move in the right direction

“I think a common misconception about therapeutic recreation is that we’re just learning how to play games, but as you can see, it’s so much more than that.” 

As program head and instructor, Linda Martin says this, she motions toward a foyer full of energetic Therapeutic Recreation students who are jumping, throwing, stretching and explaining a range of activities that they’ve learned while studying at Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Avenue W campus in Saskatoon.

In February the program hosted an open house for members of Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s School of Health Sciences, in recognition of Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month. One student is leading a session of chair yoga, a low impact and accessible method of full body stretching. Another group of students is explaining to a visitor the many applications of the Therapeutic Recreation diploma including injury rehabilitation, recreation for the elderly and community involvement. In the back corner, a student assists a visitor who is kicking a ball tied to a string, a game adapted from the Inuit that tests one’s vertical jump. The room is full of the hustle and bustle of physical activity.

A tour of their classrooms and booths set up sharing their course learnings, are all capped off with a demonstration of activities students will be implementing once they enter the workforce. Some already have work and volunteer experience that they’ve applied to their studies. Others have changed their projected careers entirely, entering the program after several years employed in a different line of work.

When asked why she joined the Therapeutic Recreation program, Donilee Dodge explains it was the career change she had been looking for after 10 years spent working as an esthetician. Soon after entering the program, she thought she would apply her new career path to working with elderly folks who needed assistance staying active, as she already had the experience of looking after her grandmother. But after speaking with Linda Martin about upcoming work placements, Martin recognized her background of growing up on a farm as something that could be applied to her work in Therapeutic Recreation.

“I didn’t really even know much about equine therapy – people working with horses as a form of therapy. It was a great experience and I may not have realized how well suited I was for it without Linda’s guidance. I’m so thankful I discovered it”.

The Therapeutic Recreation diploma is a two-year program offered at Sask Polytech in Saskatoon or through distance education, and it includes three practicums for students to get hands-on experience before graduating from the program. 

 “If you are an individual with a passion for recreation and physical activity and want a career where you can make a difference in people’s lives, Therapeutic Recreation is for you”, says Martin. “Those entering the field of Therapeutic Recreation know the power recreation has to help treat, rehabilitate and improve lives by providing the appropriate interventions that meet the client’s needs, interests and wants.”

 Therapeutic Recreation specialists are responsible for completing assessments, program planning, evaluation, and documentation.

 “Therapeutic Recreation is a very rewarding career and even during the most challenging days working with people with disabilities, injury, illness or conditions, Therapeutic Recreation specialists realize the impact their services have on the lives of their clients”.

To learn more about the Therapeutic Recreation program and its benefits, visit saskpolytech.ca/healthsciences.

Published March 2022.