For Mitch Dysart the inspiration to become a recreation therapist came from close to home.
“I have a cousin who received services from the IWK for recreation support with the accessible equipment rental program,” says Dysart. “His recreation therapist recommended he take part in hippotherapy and because it was successful, he took his first steps at age 11. This experience showed me the holistic approach of recreation therapy and inspired me to pursue a career at the hospital that supported him.”
Dysart is a recreation therapist at Adolescent Intervention Services (AIS). He meets with clients one-on-one to complete recreation therapy assessments that provide an overview of their leisure lifestyle and the barriers that may inhibit their participation in community recreation.
“I feel very fortunate to have a job I enjoy doing,” says Dysart. “I live a life full of leisure experiences and I love the opportunity to bring that forward in my work and see the benefits of it in action when a youth who may be struggling with participation in the program is enjoying an activity and laughing.”
Dysart is most passionate about working with queer populations and connecting with 2SLGBTQIA+ programs that offer safe environments for youth and decrease the barriers for 2SLGTBQIA+ recreation participation.
“I play queer sports where the adults I play with are playing in sports for the first time,” says Dysart. “I am hopeful that with the increased education and supports we as recreation therapists can continue to break down barriers and work with community partners to offer supports earlier in life so that individuals in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community have safe leisure experiences in all forms of recreation at earlier stages of life.”
February is Recreation Therapy Month! Recreation therapy helps connect children and youth who have physical, mental, or social differences with opportunities to participate in and enjoy recreational activity.