Program mirrors the history of Douglas: A growing, active and passionate community
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
Nearly 100 therapeutic recreation faculty members, retired professors, preceptors, students, and alumni gathered on the ninth floor of the Anvil Tower to celebrate a program that embodies Douglas’ history.
On February 29, Therapeutic Recreation celebrated its 40 years in existence with an educational day and reunion. Attendees were welcomed to the gathering by the Master of Ceremonies, Janice Spencer, the therapeutic recreation program co-coordinator.
The first three speakers of the morning detailed the storied history and achievements of the therapeutic recreation program at Douglas College.
Starting in 1979, the therapeutic recreation program was initially delivered in portables on the barely decade-old Douglas College campus in Surrey until a move to the newly built New Westminster occurred in 1983.
“Back when the program started, a semester of classes in the therapeutic recreation program cost one hundred dollars a semester,” remarked Karla Gronsdahl, Dean of the Faculty of Child, Family & Community Studies—the faculty that oversees the therapeutic recreation program—when detailing the history of the program.
Each speaker documented their personal history with the therapeutic recreation program. Dave Seaweed, a honourary Therapeutic Recreation practitioner and current Indigenous Coordinator, detailed his connection to the program as he started the first therapeutic recreation club recognized by the Douglas College student union, while Thor Borgford, Vice President Academic and Provost at Douglas College, revealed his link to therapeutic recreation through marriage.
“It is extremely important to get the word out about what therapeutic recreation is,” said Borgford when addressing the attendees. “As [graduates of this program] are the individuals who turn patients back into people.” A sentiment that was well received by those in attendance.
Borgford’s speech also received applause when the Douglas employee revealed that the college and the therapeutic recreation program are planning to start offering the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation degree online, with plans to start in 2021.
The passionate community around the therapeutic recreation program was excited about prospective students throughout the province being able to obtain the highly flexible credential.
“I volunteered in long term care facilities doing song circles with seniors,” said Skye MacLeod, a third-year Therapeutic Recreation student, “but when I learned about the therapeutic recreation degree it spoke to me.”
“You can help people through music to sports, or whatever people like to do,” commented MacLeod.