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Recreational Therapy Month: Helping youth, adults achieve healthier, more fulfilling lives

“Recreational therapy is designed to be both functional – and fun. Youth and adults have an opportunity to learn new skills, stay active and engaged, strengthen social connections, and improve their health and well-being.”
– Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Rhea Fernandes, Psy.D.

During Recreational Therapy Month in February, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is highlighting the positive impact recreational activities, such as arts and crafts, games and sports, can have on those with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.

“At Devereux, we work closely with the children, adolescents and adults in our care, tailoring our recreational activities to meet each individual’s interests, strengths and needs,” said Fernandes. “When those we serve paint a picture or create a collage, they learn how to express themselves. When they play softball or basketball, they learn the value of teamwork. The physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits of recreational therapy are endless.”

Building upon strengths

Across the country, Devereux offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities that enrich the lives of youth and adults.

At Devereux Connecticut – The Glenholme School, Recreation Coordinator Karli Fisher helps the individuals in her care explore and build upon their strengths.

“Our students play handball, basketball and other games in our gymnasium to develop coordination skills. In our fitness center, they use elliptical machines to improve their strength and physical fitness,” Fisher explained. “Our kids are incredibly artistic and spend time in the art room creating collages, mosaics and paintings. We also offer team-building and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities to help youth enhance their problem-solving skills; ‘minute to win it’ games to encourage healthy competition; and more. Currently, we’re developing a new gaming den on campus where students can relax with peers and play video games to reduce stress.”

Learning new skills, achieving success

Fisher says one of the biggest benefits of participating in recreational activities is that students are honing their communication and social skills.

“Students are getting out of their comfort zone and interacting with peers outside of their friend group,” Fisher noted. “A student may say, ‘I don’t typically interact with this person, but we’re going to play a game and cooperate with each other.’ Youth learn to slow down, become more self-aware and understand that everyone has a different style of communicating – and that’s OK.”

The most rewarding part, Fisher says, is when she sees students come into their own.

“The game ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ is extremely popular on campus. I often see kids who have struggled to adapt and make friends, play the game and shine. Recently, our school organized a theatrical production of ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ Kids who had never tried out for a play before, starred in the show and achieved success.”

Learn more about Devereux Connecticut – The Glenholme School, and learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.


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