On June 8 eight Therapeutic Recreation students from CHPSW's Department of Rehabilitation Sciences (Darlene Smith, Randi Hertz, Maureen Brennen, Eric Tosti, Ashleigh Stewart, Minh Le, Olivia Cheng, and Catherine Misczak) and Gretchen Snethen, PhD, CTRS loaded their weekend bags into three vehicles and headed southbound for Greenville, North Carolina.
The eight-hour drive would eventually provide students the opportunity to integrate classroom lectures and textbook knowledge with a tangible hands-on experience.
The event is an annual adaptive water-ski clinic for people with disabilities. It was made possible by Support Team for Active Recreation (STAR) in conjunction with Vidant Medical Center along with the help of East Carolina University and Temple University volunteers.
The day’s events were dedicated to teaching people how to participate in challenging sports such as kayaking, tubing, swimming, and of course water skiing. Volunteers were trained on transfers, water procedures, hand-signals, wheelchair and lifejacket safety, and briefed on individual responsibilities on the eve of the event.
Their skills were later put to the test as participants eagerly lined up for the activities. An abundance of helping hands assisted their new friends into kayaks and accompanied them on the water in an unrestricted environment. Other volunteers were either designated for shallow or deep water endeavors. Shallow water helpers were responsible for fitting the cage to the ski and double checking that the participant was snug and secure before assisting them into deeper water.
Deep water divers were responsible for trailing the skier and ensuring their safety after falls. The collective efforts of all involved made the day special and memorable. The glowing faces of participants left a lasting impression and quickly reminded students of the rewarding side of our profession.
Participants were also able to go for rides on a pontoon boat or simply socialize on land while playing Cornhole or Frisbee. There was even a specialist encouraging artistic expression through the creation of t-shirts using tie-dye colors and fish. The beauty of this event was the differences in the level of difficulty of each activity, that provided every participant with an option based on their comfort level and functional ability. The atmosphere was overflowing with choices of thrilling activities. It gave them the confidence to touch the sky again and feel safe doing it. The day concluded free of injury or incident and was conducted smoothly from start to finish. Those who were involved were fortunate to feel the magic of recreation at its best.
CHPSW staff were grateful for the opportunity. They send their warmest thanks to Dr. Loy and Jim Barrett for allowing them to volunteer, and to Dr. and Mrs. Skalko for opening their home and proving them a place to stay.
Written by Eric Tosti