Volunteering provides unique and fulfilling work experiences that may help you decide if Therapeutic Recreation is the field for you. You will gain a good sense of the industry with all the exciting challenges and rewards that go with it. You also get to see and experience the role recreation plays in meeting the needs of older people or people with disabilities.
Admission to a Therapeutic Recreation program requires participants to have 45 hours of volunteer or paid experience, which must meet the following requirements:
- In order to make the experience meaningful in that way, we ask that your hours involve working with older adults (seniors) in any setting OR with people of any age group as long as they have a disability.
- We also require that the hours spent with those people involve direct or indirect provision of recreation services. This means that you can either be involved in leading recreational programs or experiences OR you can be involved as an assistant of the leader of a recreation program or experience.
- Your 45 hours be supervised by an individual who will be prepared to evaluate your experience on a form that will be provided. Ideally, your supervisor would have training in Therapeutic Recreation, or in Recreation in general, however, as long as the supervisor is employed in the recreational department or unit or is the Administrator and has had the opportunity to observe you, that will suffice.
- Finally, the 45 hours must have been completed within the year prior to the April 1 deadline for admission. Volunteer experience completed prior to one year may be submitted towards preferential admission.
So, for example, if you have experience spending time one-to-one with an Autistic child and the time you spend involves making meals, transportation and going to the mall or park, we would recommend that you pursue 45 hours in another way or setting. Although your experience here will help you overall, it will not give you the sense for the field of therapeutic recreation that we believe you would benefit from.
If, on the other hand, you have assisted in the recreation or activities department of an intermediate care facility or a mental health clubhouse, that will work just fine. Any setting, which offers recreation services to older adults or to people with disabilities, should work.
Volunteer site information
You could find an appropriate volunteer experience at:
- long term care facilities for older adults
- youth assessment centres
- rehabilitation settings
- group homes
- mental health settings
- adult day centres
- rehabilitation centres
- correctional facilities
- municipal recreation centres
- agencies working with people with developmental disabilities
You can also check out The Red Book, which is a directory of health and social services in the lower mainland, including addresses and phone numbers. Another good website is GoVolunteer. Click on "Browse by Activity" and go to the Sports and Recreation listings.
Before volunteering with an organization, check their volunteer requirements. Many agencies ask volunteers to commit to 6 months and/or 75 hours of volunteering. Some agencies will not fill out the volunteer reference form until you complete the required time. Ask the volunteer coordinator if he/she will fill out the form by the April 1st deadline even if you haven't completed their required commitment.
When you apply for a volunteer position, please tell the Volunteer Coordinator that you are volunteering in order to meet the entrance requirements for the Douglas College Therapeutic Recreation Program. The coordinator will ensure that the volunteer work you are assigned to meets the requirement.
Listed below - in alphabetical order by community - are some of the agencies currently providing volunteer opportunities suitable for entry into the Therapeutic Recreation program.