Recreation Programs

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People with Disabilities - National Survey of Recreation and the Environment

Dr. Bryan P. McCormick,
Dept. of Park and Recreation Administration, Indiana University
Prepared for the National Center on Accessibility 

The National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) is the most recent study of outdoor recreation of the US population. The study was conducted by the US Forest Service from January 1994 through April 1995 and included 17,216 Americans over the age of 15. All respondents were asked if they had a disability and over 1,200 people answering the survey identified that they had a disability. This report presents summary information on the characteristics, outdoor activity participation, and attitudes of people with disabilities in the NSRE survey.

A2R Webinar Archive: Interpretive Trails

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation Access to Recreation grant program provided $15 million in funding to 36 recreation projects in four Midwestern states from 2006 to 2009. Projects were selected based on their concepts for embracing universal design, opportunity to facilitate inclusion of people of all abilities and opportunity to serve as an exemplar of universal design to community planners, recreation practitioners and advocates.  Over the summer of 2009, the National Center on Accessibility hosted three free 90-minute sessions.  The webinars presented an overview of the project concepts, the planning process, design decisions, construction issues, and fundraising. This was an excellent opportunity for professionals seeking the latest information on universal design trends specific to parks and recreation.

A Community Inclusion Model: City of Reno

by Andy Fernandez


Below is a model that outlines one way that a parks and recreation department or agency can include people with disabilities in its programs. It is neither a legal document nor a guideline for meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This information, personal experience, and effective and timely communication will facilitate a successful, inclusive experience for all.

Therapeutic Recreation Services

by Kristin Ruprecht, MS, CTRS

Therapeutic recreation (TR), also known as Recreation Therapy, is the provision of recreation and leisure services to people with disabilities or illnesses. David Austin, Professor and Graduate Coordinator of Therapeutic Recreation at Indiana University, states, "TR is a purposeful intervention that uses recreation to bring about health restoration…(and) has the potential to enhance health or produce high level wellness." Therapeutic recreation specialists provide recreation to meet the physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs of people they serve. Connecting with a therapeutic recreation specialist not only increases awareness of the endless recreation possibilities available for people with disabilities through education and the use of adaptive equipment, but also bridges the gap between successful community integration and the person with a disability.

Effective Communication in Parks and Recreation

A woman walks to the front of the room and begins to communicate in American Sign Language. The hearing participants look at each other in confusion. Worry is displayed on each person's face as they wonder how will they understand the information presented in the class. For many people with visual, auditory, or cognitive impairments, this scenario can be a daily event. Effective communication is essential for an individual to be able to participate and benefit in programs and activities.

Outdoor Programs: Using Service Learning as an Educational Tool

by Ricardo Moraes, MS
  • A staff from the Department of Natural Resources explains facts about Eagles while six special education students have been quietly listening for the last 30 minutes.
  • Another group of students with low academic performance designs a trail accessible for people of all abilities.
  • Students that present behavior problems work as a team to build a garden at a local nursing home as their teacher stands amused.

The above illustrations are real examples of successfully action-oriented projects used to support students with special needs to grow and achieve their potential.

Gearing Up for Camp: A Primer for Parents of Children with Disabilities

by Margarita Solis, MSSA

There are hundreds of residential programs within the United States that provide opportunities for children of all ability levels to participate in a scope of outdoor and creative recreational, camp, and adventure activities. Choosing the best camp for your child to attend should be a serious endeavor and choosing a camp for a child with a disability should not be any different if the perspective is choosing the camp that will offer the greatest opportunities and will keep your child safe. This is not always an easy task, however there are many resources to support you this process.

The following illustrations are a culmination of real experiences and real examples. It illustrates the parent perspective, the process and experiences of a parent sending a child to camp.

Challenge Programs: A Universal Approach to Including People of All Abilities

by Gary Eavey, Adventure Based Counselor

Challenge Programs enable people to take physical and emotional risks with the support and encouragement of their peers. The use of challenge courses can promote growth and independence. Participants feel a sense of achievement in completing an activity they perceived beyond their realm of success. For people with disabilities, the benefits of a challenge course experience can be a unique journey of self-awareness and personal growth-testing new abilities.

Providing Inclusive Recreation Opportunities: The Cincinnati Model

by Stephanie Montgomery, M.S.,CTRS and Alayne Kazin,M.A., CTRS

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is people with and without disabilities participating in recreation together! The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that parks and recreation programs and services are provided in the "most integrated setting." Although the term "Integration" is used throughout the ADA, "Inclusion" has become the word which is most commonly associated with the concept of integrating persons with disabilities into general services (school, community, etc.)

Challenge Course Operations for Including People with Disabilities

 by Don Rogers, Ph.D., CTRS

 Operating a challenge course program has features similar to any other recreation service delivery operation. There are administrators who must plan and make decisions, marketing and public relations efforts, supervisors directing front-lines operations, and program delivery staff who have direct contact with participants.