Good sports: the power of recreation to heal is real

Five Counties Children's Centre therapeutic recreation service helps children with special needs get in the game

Five Counties Children's Centre recreation therapist Colleen Ristok (right) assists a client during a recent robotic Lego building event. The session gave participants a hands-on opportunity to build with various materials, including marshmallows and later robotic Lego. (Photo courtesy of Five Counties Children's Centre)
Five Counties Children's Centre recreation therapist Colleen Ristok (right) assists a client during a recent robotic Lego building event. The session gave participants a hands-on opportunity to build with various materials, including marshmallows and later robotic Lego. (Photo courtesy of Five Counties Children's Centre)

“Recreation’s purpose is not to pass time, but to make time live; not to keep a person occupied, but to keep him or her refreshed; not to offer an escape from life, but to provide a discovery of life.”- Author unknown

Many of us take part (or have kids participating) in sports and recreation programs. We know these activities are important for fun, physical wellbeing, skills development, confidence, co-operation, resiliency, socialization, and more. Take away or put up barriers to participating, and the power of play and its benefits are lost for good.

Every person has the right to and need for recreation. At Five Counties Children’s Centre, we take this to heart.

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Our work in therapeutic recreation focuses on helping children with disabilities get in the game — and other recreational activities — that benefit their wellbeing and therapy goals.

Currently, therapeutic recreation supports approximately 120 children and families in our region who receive support at Five Counties for two or more issues relating to mobility, communication, physical, developmental, or intellectual needs.

To borrow hockey phrases, children and youth who use a wheelchair, have sensory sensitivities, are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, or were born with Down syndrome shouldn’t be shut out. It’s our goal to net them recreational and leisure opportunities.

Five Counties Children's Centre recreation therapist Caitlin Ivany attended the recent Inclusive Sport & Recreation Expo I in Peterborough, where she displayed some of the promotional resources and mobility equipment available through Five Counties to help kids of all ages and abilities get into the game. (Photo courtesy of Five Counties Children's Centre)
Five Counties Children’s Centre recreation therapist Caitlin Ivany attended the recent Inclusive Sport & Recreation Expo I in Peterborough, where she displayed some of the promotional resources and mobility equipment available through Five Counties to help kids of all ages and abilities get into the game. (Photo courtesy of Five Counties Children’s Centre)

When a child or teen is referred to therapeutic recreation, we do an initial assessment that takes into account their needs, abilities, and interests. We arrange and organize individual or group activities at Five Counties or in the community that hold their interests and help build skills needed so they can take part in the recreation activity on their own.

Five Counties offers short-term loans of recreation equipment (like all-court sports chairs and adaptable ice sledges) for clients to be able to take part in a sport or activity.

At Five Counties, we’re fortunate to provide many therapeutic recreation opportunities for our clients, including therapeutic horse riding, music therapy, yoga, robotic Lego experience, parent and child swim time, gymnastics, and more.

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Our monthly Family Adventure Nights on offer clients and their families a chance to socialize and try new leisure activities together. Winter hike and snow scavenger hunt (January 26)? Art anyone (February 23)? Mark the dates.

In the Five Counties region, we’re blessed with many supportive community partners who — like us — see the value of recreation for kids of all ages and abilities.

Organizations like BGC Kawarthas (Boys & Girls Clubs of Kawartha Lakes), YMCA Northumberland, Haliburton County Public Library and the Council for Persons With Disabilities in Peterborough offer amazing and diverse activities (pickleball and wheelchair basketball anyone?).

It's not exactly a car ad, but it is a promotional flyer used by Five Counties to promote the loan of its Hippocampe Chair for families and schools in the area. The all-season, all-terrain Hippocampe chair comes with various attachments (including skis) making trail use for children and youth with mobility issues possible in all types of weather.  (Graphic courtesy of Five Counties Children's Centre)
It’s not exactly a car ad, but it is a promotional flyer used by Five Counties to promote the loan of its Hippocampe Chair for families and schools in the area. The all-season, all-terrain Hippocampe chair comes with various attachments (including skis) making trail use for children and youth with mobility issues possible in all types of weather. (Graphic courtesy of Five Counties Children’s Centre)

The quote at the top of this post begins: “recreation’s purpose is not to pass time.” Instead, it’s a pastime “to make time live.” We can all agree everyone deserves this opportunity.

The power of play cannot be denied; its power to heal is very real. We see it in the smiles, winks, and laughter of kids finding success and independence in meaningful activities that matter as much to them as to us!

To keep up to date about therapeutic recreation at Five Counties Children’s Centre, visit the Five Counties’ Therapeutic Recreation Facebook page.