Life / Learning Curve

A rewarding career in therapeutic recreation

Help older adults discover wellness through recreation


Older adults are the fastest growing age group in Canada, resulting in a growing employment need for professionals who can support and promote optimal health for this generation.

The field of therapeutic recreation, especially for older adults, is not just limited to physical exercise but activities that promote healthy living, including arts and creative and expressive arts, music, gardening, games, social events and entertainment.

According to Laurie Chiasson, a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and Stenberg College instructor, there is an urgent need for qualified people that understand the language of recreation therapy and are passionate about using recreation as a tool for wellness.

In Chiasson’s opinion, the qualities that make someone a great therapeutic recreation assistant include “listening skills, the ability to understand the importance of human interaction and an understanding of, and interest in, celebrating individualism; it’s important to be able to see people for who they really are and be able to tailor your programs to meet individual needs and interests.”

As an instructor at Stenberg, Chiasson guides students on their path towards a more rewarding career. One such student
is Danielle Beauchamp, a 2014 Stenberg graduate who now spends her days developing and delivering programs designed to help older adults have fun.

“Going to Stenberg and learning about recreation therapy and working with older adults completely changed the career that
I was headed towards… Everyday I feel productive, like I’ve helped somebody, that my career makes a difference in people’s lives, and that’s something I was really looking for in a career.”

The daily duties for therapeutic recreation assistants vary depending upon your place of employment, but often include planning and leading recreation programs that span a variety of areas (exercise classes, music classes, etc.), attending resident outings, documenting observations and participating in quality improvement projects. Graduates of Stenberg’s Therapeutic Recreation program are qualified for employment in community and senior centres, residential settings, adult day centres and rehabilitation centres.

The promotion of health in older adults encompasses physical, social, emotional, cultural, spiritual and mental well-being.

If you’re someone who wants to make a difference in your community, enjoys improving the lives of others and working with older adults, Stenberg’s 47-week Therapeutic Recreation program could be the right choice for you.

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