Recreational Therapy is a growing program at Slippery Rock University. The program is designed to prepare competent entry-level recreational therapists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains. This preparation allows students to work with individuals with disabling conditions in a variety of settings and specialty areas. Graduates of the Recreational Therapy program may work with children, adolescents and/or adults with physical, intellectual, or emotional illnesses or disabilities. They may work in hospitals or rehabilitation centers, residential programs, long term care settings such as assisted living facilities or nursing homes, drug and alcohol recovery centers, jails, or in community-based recreation or service programs. Students may choose to minor in adapted physical activity, psychology, gerontology, exceptionalities (special education) or criminology. Students can also specialize in aquatics, therapeutic riding, or outdoor adventures. This is a major that allows students the flexibility of working with people with illness and disabilities in many non-traditional environments.
In addition to the Bachelor’s of Science in Recreational Therapy, Slippery Rock University offers a TR 3+3 physical therapy option. In this option students major in Recreational Therapy while also taking the prerequisites for physical therapy school. All course work is completed at an accelerated pace so that students complete their RT Bachelor’s degree in three years, applying for physical therapy school in their third year. The 3+3 option requires a strong academic preparation in the sciences and a tremendous dedication to academic study. In addition to the options above, students interested in other graduate school options can receive guidance for preparation in various related degrees such as counseling and occupational therapy.
Our graduates are currently providing Recreational Therapy services in the Southwestern Pennsylvania area in facilities such as Health South, LIFE Pittsburgh, UPMC Western Psychiatric Center, UPMC Northwest Behavioral Center, the Woodlands Foundation, Vintage Senior Center, Presbyterian Senior Care, and Concordia Lutheran Services. In addition, our graduates are employed in recreational therapy settings throughout the United States, including facilities in North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, New York, Virginia, Georgia, and Illinois. Slippery Rock University RT graduates have also been accepted into graduate school at SRU (DPT, Counseling & Adapted Physical Activity), Gannon (PT & OT), Clarion (Rehab Science), Pitt (OT, Speech pathology), Chatham (OT), Duquesne University (OT), Edinboro (Rehab Counseling), East Carolina University (TR), and Temple University.
The Recreational Therapy program at SRU has received national recognition from the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) for “Excellence in Education” twice during the past ten years. In addition, the RT faculty members have been selected to represent the national association in numerous capacities. In fact, both Dr. Cooke and Dr. Hutchins have served on the ATRA Board of Directors, Dr. Hutchins as President in 1995. Dr. Cooke served on the Board of Directors in 2005 and currently serves as the team leader for the Diversity Committee of the organization. They both frequently present sessions at the ATRA national conferences.
The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) has recently identified Slippery Rock University’s Recreational Therapy program as one of the top 12 programs in the country that produce Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS’s). This recognition finds SRU in the company of much larger universities such as the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, East Carolina University, and the University of New Hampshire. Over the past ten years Slippery Rock University Recreational Therapy students consistently score above the national average on the certification exam.
The RT program allows students to gain leadership experience through various student activities such as the TR Club. This student centered organization sponsors an annual workshop for practitioners, conducts fundraisers, and participates in numerous campus service projects such as the Cardboard Village, Relay for Life, and Project Bundle-up. The Club also contributes to the local Autism Society, the Healthsports program, and other service projects in the community. In 2010 the TR Club won the Cardboard Village award for “most creative structure” and raising the most money for homeless people in Butler County. The Club also sponsors campus wide educational programs. In 2010 the Club hosted an art exhibit featuring artists with disabilities sharing their perspective on disability through art and a visit from Mark Wellman, adventure athlete. Mark Wellman, who acquired a spinal cord injury as a result of a climbing accident, spoke to several groups on campus about his perspective on life and achievements in the outdoors including several climbs of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Finally, the TR Club also financially supports student attendance at state and national conferences. The SRU students are typically well represented at ATRA conferences and are well-known among recreational therapy professionals for their “green SRU polos” and enthusiastic participation.
The students of the SRU RT program are well prepared when they receive their bachelor’s degree. They have completed course work that exceeds the national standards, participated in volunteer hours both inside and outside of the classroom environment, attended local or national conferences, and have participated in leadership and service projects that relate to their field of study. Students will find the Recreational Therapy degree prepares them for a career in recreational therapy and/or other health or human service areas or for graduate school. The SRU RT program is a small but growing “best kept secret” for students interested in working with individuals with disabilities in a creative and unique way.