RMP: Therapeutic Recreation Student
Originally, I enrolled in the RMP: TR Option at UNH because I was interested in the Child Life minor. In order to have this minor I had to choose between a major in Family Studies or Therapeutic Recreation; I chose TR because it looked more interesting to me. When I started taking classes in TR, I became so excited and captivated by all the opportunities that the field provided individuals with. I had always wanted to help people and make a positive difference in their lives. As someone who has always been active and loves exploring new adventures and prospects, Therapeutic Recreation is right up my alley. So, although I basically fell into the TR major, I have had so many great opportunities and have found that this is a profession that I am passionate about and will someday become my career.
As a student in the RMP department you are constantly involved in programs and activities related to your major. One of my favorite moments was hiking Mount Major with Northeast Passage. We were hiking with a class of young students, one of whom has Cerebral Palsy and has difficulty walking. In order for him to be able to hike alongside his peers, Northeast Passage brought and adapted a hiking wheelchair and with the help of his peers and chaperones, we pushed him up the mountain. When we reached the top, he walked around the summit with the help of his father, amazed and thrilled with the view from the top. As I watched him, I realized this act of walking around the top of the mountain would never be possible for him had it not been for Northeast Passage, the adaptive wheelchair, and the dedication of all his peers. That is just what Northeast Passage and TR are about: ensuring that everything is possible.
I also really enjoyed working with Community Partners at the YMCA in Rochester with adults with Developmental Disabilities for my fall semester clinical experience. Four of my peers and I worked with the participants to educate them on health and wellness and to engage them in sports and dancing, as well as healthy eating habits and the navigation of social situations. Each week there was something different that really hit home to me, whether it was something sweet a participant said, or that a participant had responded positively that day, I always left the YMCA with new insights. Some days were definitely a challenge: the day didn’t go as well as planned or the participants seemed upset. However, as long as we made it worth it for one of those participants each day, it was worth it for us. At the end of the semester, the participants put on a “Health Highlights Show” in which they walked down the runway as our emcee described some of their favorite aspects of the program. The participants also showcased a dance they learned, we watched a slideshow of all the activities we did throughout the semester, and we shared a healthy snack with the audience. Nothing was better than seeing those participants who struggled with confidence or balance or motivation strut it down the runway and dance like no one was watching. Watching the smiles on their faces made the experience for me.
I really like all of the volunteering we are required to do; it really forces us to explore the field of therapeutic recreation and provides us with a lot of knowledge and understanding. We do practical and clinical experiences all before we graduate, each experience setting us up for the next step and preparing us for life post-graduation. I also really enjoy the labs in which we learn practical skills needed to work as a recreational therapist, such as wheelchair management. The Therapeutic Recreation department also brings a lot of guest speakers to class who are either in the profession or work for agencies that are related to our topic of study. This is really helpful because you learn from their perspective and experiences and receive advice from them as well.
After graduation, I plan on getting a job in the Therapeutic Recreation field. I hope to be working with people with Neurological disorders such as Traumatic Brain Injury, but I am still actively exploring the different populations I could work with in Therapeutic Recreation. So who knows where that will lead me! A few years after graduation, I plan to go back to school to obtain a Graduate’s degree.
I would recommend UNH to potential students because this University offers so much. There are always new experiences available to me at the University. Additionally, the RMP: TR program prepares you for the future. UNH’s program is far ahead of many other Therapeutic Recreation programs in the nation, because you are constantly immersed in hands-on activities and you get so much experience in the field during your years as an undergraduate. The department constantly challenges you to see things from different perspectives and forces you out of your comfort zone so you can dive into the work of a recreational therapist. The Therapeutic Recreation department also provides you with a tremendous amount of support, you can always ask them for help and feedback and they will never leave you on your own, they are always there to guide you.