SRU recreational therapy program receives $4,500 grant


fitness therapist working with retired man

Feb. 8, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has received a $4,500 grant from the U.S. President's Council on Fitness, Sport and Nutrition to give senior recreational therapy majors experience facilitating therapy programs for people 65 or older with an age-related or acquired disability.

betsy kemeny


The grant will allow SRU to develop student leaders for programs offered as part of classes such as "Clinical Aspects" and "Recreational Therapy Services Through the TRAILS Program," said Betsy Kemeny, SRU assistant professor of parks and recreation that that teaches recreational therapy.

The community-based health promotion programs support clients with physical, mental and behavioral issues, Kemeny said. Students implement activity sessions and counsel clients on healthy eating and other lifestyle choices.

"Older individuals with chronic health care needs experience many of the same concerns with limited function and opportunities," she said. "While they could readily benefit from health promotion programs, they often need human support to overcome barriers to participation."

SRU's programs benefiting seniors include Horses for Heroes, which helps veterans, activities at the Slippery Rock Senior Center. Kemeny and Deborah Hutchins, assistant professor of parks and recreation, supervise students in the program.

Kemeny said SRU's programs meet growing needs. Due to longer lifespan and the aging of baby boomers, the population of adults 65 or older could double by 2025, she said, citing statistics from the Centers for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By 2030, the proportion of individuals 65 years and older is predicted to be 20 percent the U.S. population, she said. The population of individuals aging with developmental disabilities will also double by 2030, up to1.5 million. Due to biological factors, less access to health care and poorer lifestyle opportunities, adults aging with developmental disabilities are more likely to develop chronic health conditions at younger ages.

"Due to the severe lack of opportunities for these individuals, effective community-based programs promoting small, sustained changes in health behaviors can make a significant impact on health and well being," she said.

SRU's recreational therapy program has nearly 200 majors.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |