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Therpeutic recreation students plan ‘Day of Play’

Children and adults with disabilities within the surrounding area had an opportunity to visit the Pittsburg State recreation center to participate in the first ever TR-Iffic Day of Play. The TR-Iffic Day of Play was organized by PSU therapeutic recreation students, mimicking their previous event TR-Iffic Field Day. 

Eight therapeutic recreation students, along with assistant health, human, and performance recreation (HHPR) assistant professor Laura Covert-Miller, planned the TR-Iffic Day of Play for Friday, March 29, as a way to provide children and adults in various special education programs the opportunity to participate in a fun and active day. 

“The intent is kind of two-fold for the TR-Iffic Day of Play,” Covert-Miller said. “One, it was a student project to come up with an event that is inclusive for all age levels and ability levels and also, two, it was to have an event for individuals of all ability levels and ages.” 

Therapeutic recreation students work to organize events like the TR-Iffic Day of Play in order to provide them with hands-on experience for their futures. Since the first TR-Iffic event, participant involvement has only grown. 

“… This is the first year we have had the TR-Iffic Day of Play, we started first with the TR-Iffic Field Day, which happened about two-and-a-half-years ago, and it was created by therapeutic recreation students here at Pitt State,” Covert-Miller said. “When we first started with this event we had 20 participants show up and now today of those that I know we have registered we have around 150 participants or more here.” 

The TR-Iffic Day of Play was carnival themed, which included various carnival-related activities liked ring toss, face painting, bowling, a photo booth, and parachute games. Covert-Miller said the TR-Iffic Day of Play is an opportunity for community members “to come out and show their support of individuals of all ability levels.” 

“What I personally think of the event is that it’s an amazing opportunity,” she said. “We have individuals who are ages six to age 80 who are participating here today with us and it provides an opportunity for the participants to socialize with others, to work on communication skills, to work on physical skills such as eye-hand coordination as well, but then also it’s just really beneficial who put this on and the student who are volunteering with the event, too.” 

Among the volunteers and the eight therapeutic recreation students who organized the event was Lexi Yager, senior in therapeutic recreation. Yager said she enjoyed what the TR-Iffic Day of Play provided to its participants. 

“I think it’s just a great opportunity for them to get out of their just normal routine, get out here and have some fun; I know that days can get a little long, especially being in a classroom,” Yager said. “The event was for persons with disabilities, so it was cool to get them out here and—they’re all on different functioning levels as well—but getting them in the community or get the out of the classroom … out of the different centers, to just come out relax, and have a day where they can just be themselves and have fun.” 

Yager said they received positive feedback from their previous TR-Iffic Field Day and that the TR-Iffic Day of Play was also “really fun.” 

“… What’s really cool about the TR-Iffic Day of Play is … there’s a structure, but it’s like organized chaos, which is even more fun,” Yager said. They don’t have to do this, they don’t have to do this activity—they can do whatever they want. So, if they don’t want to get their face painted, but they’d rather go over and play ring toss they can … They don’t have to stay to a specific structure, which a lot of the times in classrooms and throughout their daily lives there is a lot of structure, which is super good for them, but this just allows them to do whatever they want and just have a little bit of freedom with it as well.” 

Yager graduates this May, along with many of her fellow therapeutic recreation classmates who helped out and called the TR-Iffic Day of Play their “last hoorah.” She said they decided to host the TR-Iffic Day of Play as a smaller version of the fall’s TR-Iffic Field day but received a larger outcome than expected.  

“… And we ended up having over 150 people sign up,” Yager said. … So, it’s been really fun. … There were only eight of us students that put this on and then our teacher as well was amazing; Dr. Covert is unbelievable, so we’ve been really blessed to have her.” 

Covert-Miller said the students who helped with the TR-Iffic Day of Play also received positive benefits from taking part in the day. 

“The students who get to volunteer for the TR-Iffic Day of Play and just our TR-Iffic events in general, they have opportunities to work with a wide variety of ability levels all at one time,” Covert-Miller said. “They have an opportunity to be exposed to individuals who are different than them. They have the opportunity to connect and understand how recreation and how activity in general can break down barriers and at the end of the day everybody just wants to have a good time. …” 

She said that for the therapeutic recreation students this was a way for them to apply what they have learned in the classroom. 

“I was able to benefit just by getting all the practice and all the time I think it’s one thing to sit in a classroom and try to plan out things and learn, but with this major it’s been so cool because I feel like I’ve done so many things hands-on, whether it’s we went to a nursing home for a day or different schools,” Yager said.  And so this was super cool because we were able to put it into practice, but you know when we leave in May we’re going to have to do this on our own, we won’t have a big class to set it up, and so this just gives us that extra practice but also makes us realize why we chose the major that we did and why we’re so excited—we’re sad to leave Pitt, don’t get us wrong, but excited to get out in the real world and see what it has to offer and hopefully what we learn here we can bring there as well.” 

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