SRU announces Recreational Therapy Month events


Therapy dogs in the quad

Slippery Rock University is hosting events for adaptive sports, animal-assisted intervention and humor therapy to recognize International Recreational Therapy Month.

Feb. 7, 2019

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - February is International Recreational Therapy Month and Slippery Rock University is recognizing the event in a variety of ways, including celebrating, educating, giving back and even conducting activities underwater.

"This month is an opportunity for practitioners and educators to get the word out about what recreational therapy is," said Deborah Hutchins, SRU associate professor of parks, conservation and recreational therapy and director of the recreational therapy program. "We work with people with disabilities or disabling conditions to help promote their functioning and independence through recreation and related types of interventions and activities."

While the American Therapeutic Recreation Association is the national organizing body that declares February as International Recreational Therapy month, SRU's recreational therapy program and the Recreational Therapy Club at SRU are the catalysts for hosting the following public events on campus:

"Wellness Through Recreational Therapy," 5-7 p.m., Feb. 14, at the Smith Student Center Ballroom and Theater will feature a pair of hour-long sessions where people can learn about animal-assisted interventions and humor therapy, which are two non-pharmacological approaches to well-being. Hutchins, a certified human animal intervention specialist, will share research that supports the benefits of animal intervention and conduct a demonstration with therapy dogs. Colleen Cooke, professor of parks, conservation and recreational therapy and a certified humor professional, will share therapeutic activities and research using laughter.

"Adaptive Sports Day," 9 a.m. to noon, Feb. 16, at the Aebersold Student Recreation Center, will offer people with or without disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports including hand-cycling and bocce, as well as sports adapted for people with disabilities, like curling. Jill Campbell, vice president and training director of LifeWaters, an adaptive scuba organization based in St. Louis, will offer a Discover Scuba exercise for people with disabilities to scuba dive. All the activities are free and open to the public. Discover Scuba is reserved for a limited number of people with disabilities who register in advance, but all people are encouraged to attend as spectators. To register as a participant for Discover Scuba, contact Heather Bright at: or 724.738.4891.

"We want people to experience things that people with disabilities are able to do, which will benefit those persons and better promote their health and well-being," Hutchins said. "It's important that people with disabilities stay active - physically, socially and cognitively. We're here to educate people about the opportunities and options that people with disabilities have. A lot of people don't realize what they can do."

While the two public events focus on educating people, two other activities planned for Recreational Therapy Month will focus on celebrating and giving back. Included are an RTM kickoff event, 12:30 p.m., Feb. 7, at Patterson Hall, Room 342, for students and faculty to celebrate the recreational therapy program's recent reaccreditation by The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

To conclude the month, a group of SRU students and faculty will give back through a service project by conducting recreational therapy-related intervention activities with veterans, Feb. 27, at the Butler VA Health Care in Butler.

To learn more about the Recreational Therapy Month activities, contact Allison Kronyak, a senior recreational therapy major from Wood Ridge, New Jersey, by email at: Information is also available to SRU students, faculty and staff on the Recreational Therapy Club's CORE page by clicking here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |