Recreational Therapy Month: Enriching the lives of youth, adults with disabilities
“Recreational therapy is a powerful evidence-based intervention that can help individuals of all ages and abilities acquire new skills, boost their self-confidence and improve their quality of life.”
During Recreational Therapy Month in February, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is highlighting the significant impact recreational activities, such as arts and crafts, games and sports, can have on children, adolescents and adults living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.
“We want to help those in our care achieve their goals, build positive relationships and live their best possible lives,” said Fernandes. “Whether the individuals we serve are playing basketball, taking a cooking class or completing a puzzle, recreational therapy offers physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, increased strength and coordination, enhanced mental alertness and much more.”
Promoting health and well-being
Across the country, Devereux offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities that promote the health and well-being of youth and adults. At Devereux Georgia, recreation therapists work closely with each individual, designing recreational activities and programs around their interests, strengths and needs.
“Physical activity is extremely important to overall wellness, especially with children and adolescents,” noted Devereux Georgia Activity Therapy Manager Kristina Murfin-Higel. “We incorporate sports, games and competitions into our therapy sessions. Not only do our individuals learn the significance of movement and exercise, but they also acquire communication and social skills, and gain an understanding of sportsmanship and how to overcome obstacles. We offer special activities as well, such as dances and holiday parties. These opportunities allow our youth to interact with their peers and participate in something new.”
Devereux Georgia’s recreational therapy program also includes music therapy.
“Our youth sing, play instruments and dance,” shared Murfin-Higel. “We even have a recording studio on campus where some of our individuals can mix their own music. Music therapy helps those in our care express their emotions and become more engaged.”
Putting skills to practice
Murfin-Higel says youth look forward to participating in various recreational activities and understand it is an opportunity for them to apply what they have learned.
“Recently, I observed one of our therapists organize a game of dodgeball with a group of individuals,” Murfin-Higel said. “One of the individuals became frustrated with something that had happened in the game and asked if he could take a timeout. He applied his anger management skills and used that time away from the game to calm down. In that same group, another individual wanted to work on developing his leadership skills. He asked to serve as coach of one of the teams and practiced delegating tasks and communicating effectively with his peers. With recreational therapy, our youth are putting their skills to practice, learning how to interact with each other in healthy ways, celebrating successes and having fun.”
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