Best Practices

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A2R Webinar Archive: Playgrounds

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.

The Eden Alternative: Renewing Life in Nursing Homes

As the U.S. population ages, many of us will become consumers of long term care. We may need to put our parents in residential settings, or to find assisted living for ourselves. Luckily, a new philosophy is sweeping the nation's nursing homes, one that offers a "life worth living" inside long term care. It's called the Eden Alternative.

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.

Pursuing Excellence: How Teenage Campers Gain Independence Through Service and Travel

by Carol A. Stone, MS, CTRS

When one thinks of their "teenage years" perhaps ideas such as high school, team athletics, dances and friends come to mind. Perhaps other ideas come to mind as well, like struggling to fit in, struggling to gain independence and feeling "awkward."

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.

Big Game Hunting with Long Arms

By Cameron Brown

Hunting as a form of outdoor recreation can be traced back to the medieval era when feudal lords organized hunts to entertain guests. However, it wasn't until the late 19th century that hunting was viewed by North American's as something other than a method for acquiring food. The formation of the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887 legitimized hunting as a form of sport in North America.

In 1955 the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began conducting a series of surveys on the number of individuals who participate in the activity of hunting. The USFWS conducts a new survey once every five years. The most recent survey was completed in 1996. The survey shows that 11.3 million individuals participated in a big game hunt in 1996. Sampling methods show that 5 percent of all big game hunters in 1996 were people with disabilities.