Participation in service learning is a critical aspect of the undergraduate education in Recreational Therapy. A variety of service learning opportunities are offered through regular classes, officially designated service learning courses, and through student lead Recreational Therapy Association. These real-world experiences allow students to apply what they have learned in the classroom, giving them exposure to the some of the diverse populations that are served in Recreational Therapy.
Two Recreational Therapy courses have been officially designated as “Service Learning Courses” by the WCU Center for Service Learning. These are RTH 360 Recreational Therapy for Older Adults and RTH 470 Adventure Based Recreational Therapy. In both courses, specifically designed service learning opportunities have been created to provide students with a client-based laboratory for implementing evidence-based practice techniques and interventions with actual clients. Under the supervision of qualified professionals, students complete a minimum of 15 hours of client interaction in these two courses.
Some of other service learning opportunities currently coordinated by the Recreational Therapy Association include Webster Enterprises and the Jackson County Special Olympics.
Webster Enterprises of Jackson County, Inc. is a private, non-profit, corporation that provides vocational assessment and evaluation, work adjustment training, and supportive services to any eligible individual who has a disability that creates a substantial barrier to employment. The goal of Webster Enterprises is to provide services that will help participants develop transferable skills, attitudes and behaviors to enhance their vocational potential and ability to be successful in their employment objectives (Taken from http://www.main.nc.us/jackson/webster.html). Students from Western’s RTA program volunteer their time at Webster, providing activities for it’s participants that are meant to build positive behaviors, in accordance with Webster’s goals.
Special Olympics is a global non-profit organization serving nearly 200 million people with intellectual disabilities, with a presence in nearly 200 countries worldwide. It uses Olympic sports to create an environment where everyone is accepted and celebrated (Taken from http://www.specialolympics.org/Who_We_Are.aspx). The Recreational Therapy Association works with the Jackson County Special Olympics participates in their training for the Special Olympic games that occur annually.
Throughout the year, additional service learning opportunities are developed for student involvement and engagement.
Photos this page: RT faculty and students at Special Olympics, Spring 2008.