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Recreational Therapy Month: Recognizing the value of therapeutic recreational programs

Recreational therapy uses activities – such as music and dance classes and arts and crafts – to help stimulate and improve the overall health and well-being of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions.

In honor of Recreational Therapy Month, which is recognized each February, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health wants to raise awareness of the positive impact recreational programs and services also can have for individuals living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.

“Devereux’s recreational therapy program is a critical factor when it comes to helping the children, adolescents and adults we serve to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives,” said Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Rhea Fernandes. “By participating in recreational activities on a regular basis, our individuals achieve improved socialization and proficiencies in essential life skills, as well as a higher level of physical fitness and sense of self-worth and efficacy. The benefits are truly endless.”

Devereux’s recreational programs enrich lives

According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), therapeutic recreation specialists – also known as recreational therapists – plan, direct, deliver and evaluate recreation-based interventions for individuals in need of services and supports. 

At Devereux’s campuses across the county, we offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities and activities for both youth and adults including:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Animal therapy
  • Games (e.g., bingo)
  • Sports leagues and groups
  • Dance fitness
  • Movie nights
  • And more …

“These activities help our individuals overcome limitations that might previously have acted as barriers, providing them with an opportunity to learn new skills for maintaining a productive and healthy lifestyle – while having fun,” said Saree Lough, recreation and activities manager – Devereux Pennsylvania – Adult Services. “At our Devereux Pennsylvania – Adult Services campus, bingo is our most popular activity by far, with approximately 120 participants every week. Bingo is a fun game, but it also helps our individuals improve their eye-hand coordination, concentration and fine motor skills, and gives them a sense of self-worth when they present their winning boards.”

Benefits of leisure and recreational activities

Recreational therapy isn’t just about fun and games; it offers physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits including:

  • Increased mobility, flexibility and range of motion;
  • Improved physical endurance, coordination, agility and balance;
  • Opportunities to find and build relationships;
  • Stronger connections with family and the community;
  • Relaxation and stress reduction;
  • Boosted self-esteem;
  • Increased mental alertness and attention span; and
  • Improved problem-solving skills

“It is amazing to see how much the individuals in our care are able to grow and thrive by participating in activities such as talent shows, holiday dances and jewelry-making classes,” said Lough. “These activities allow our individuals to learn new skills and express their emotions, while empowering them to manage stress and move forward in life in a safe and healthy way.”

To learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, click here.

 

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