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September 27, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Norton presents conference keynote

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Cheryl Norton, Slippery Rock University president, has been invited to give the keynote address Tuesday at the national American Therapeutic Recreation Association conference in Pittsburgh.

Norton will present "Accreditation, Certification and Licensure: A President's Perspective." She will describe the importance of accreditation of academic programs and certification and licensure of recreation therapy professionals in terms of their value to students and the people those students will eventually serve. Norton will also discuss the importance of accreditation to SRU.

"President Norton gave the keynote at the annual SRU Therapeutic Recreation Club workshop last spring, just after our therapeutic recreation program became the fourth in the nation to be accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education, Council on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs," said Colleen Cooke, SRU professor of therapeutic recreation. "Her presentation was very well-received and since one of the 'bridges' addresses advancing the profession, I asked her if she would be willing to give the keynote at the national conference, and she graciously accepted."

The Sept. 27-Oct. 1 conference theme is "Building Bridges of Possibilities." Educators and professionals in the field will focus on bridges to competency, bridges to advancing the profession and bridges to the future.

SRU professors and more than 50 therapeutic recreation majors will join more than 400 therapeutic recreation professionals from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and Korea at the conference.

Cooke, Deborah Hutchins, SRU professor of therapeutic recreation and TR coordinator, Betsy Kemeny, professor of therapeutic recreation, and Courtney Gramlich, an SRU therapeutic recreation graduate and director of the University's Storm Harbor Equestrian Center, will participate.

Cooke said 20 SRU students will attend wearing green therapeutic recreation polo shorts Tuesday, "creating a sea of green as Dr. Norton addressed the conference."

Twenty SRU students will attend the full conference, from Sunday to Wednesday. Twenty-five additional students plan to attend Monday, 20 on Tuesday and eight on Wednesday.

Susan Hannam, dean of the College of Health, Environment and Science, is providing a bus to transport students from campus to Pittsburgh

"Many students will be volunteering in various capacities, from meet/greet to directing traffic between sessions, to staffing the SRU vendor booth," Cooke said. "Dr. Hannam purchased an SRU vendor booth where we will be providing information about our graduate programs and SRU in general. In addition, our students will be staffing the "Welcome" table, giving out information about Pittsburgh, the conference and treats."

SRU's therapeutic recreation program has approximately 195 students enrolled.

"The annual conference is an excellent opportunity for students to interact and network with professionals in the field," Cooke said. "Many past students have met and found their internship supervisor at the annual conference, and we've had them all over the U.S. In addition, these interactions help students observe the application of their classroom learning as they listen to professionals describe their professional practice. Further, students learn about the value of their education at SRU, when they talk about courses and coursework with students from other universities."

Cooke will be presenting a session titled, "TR/RT - Live It, Learn It, Love It," during which students will engage with each other in a number of interventions aimed at socialization.

"Many of the presenters are graduates of SRU," Cooke said. "More that 90 percent of the planning committee members are Slippery Rock graduates. Nearly 100 percent of the volunteers are current students or SRU therapeutic recreation graduates."

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has made a proclamation declaring Sept. 29 as "Recreational Therapy Day" in the City of Pittsburgh. The proclamation will be presented and read by the CEO of Visit Pittsburgh during the opening session Sunday.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.