Annual field day gives students practice serving unique abilities

For Libby Rohr, working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities has been a passion since starting her graduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation at Pittsburg State University. Here, she’s had opportunities to take her skills and leadership to the next level by coordinating the annual TR-Iffic Field Day at the Plaster Center. 

It’s hard to tell who was having more fun at the annual event this week: the nearly 300 individuals who came to campus from as far away as Fredonia and Coffeyville to engage in a day of physical activities, or the 100 Pitt State recreation, psychology, and nursing students who volunteered to help. 

Even Gus was present, taking part in games like Parachute and Noodle Foosball. 

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“We like it so much,” said Aubrey Cauley, a client at Mosaic who attended with his friend, Donnie Luton. “We look forward to this all year. We like getting to know other people from around the area and doing the bean bag toss. It’s a lot of fun!” 

The day is the brainchild of Associate Professor Laura Covert-Miller, who guides her classes in learning to create community-based activities aimed at meeting the needs and abilities of specific populations. 

“So, take that obstacle course, for example,” she said, pointing to a pattern of pool noodles laid on the turf. “We want it to be a day for them, a day that works for them, so what if they’re in a wheelchair? How do you adapt the course for them?” 

The goal, she said, is to create awareness and prepare students like Rohr for careers in communities, clinical settings, and recovery centers. 

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Pitt State has the only Therapeutic Recreation collegiate program in the state. The university’s agility lab serves as an experiential classroom and is equipped with tools and equipment to give students hands-on experience, and students often partner with community members and agencies like Special Olympics on special projects. 

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When Rohr graduates in May, she is planning to apply what she has learned in a job she landed as a recreational therapist at a substance abuse facility in Osawatomie, Kansas. 

“Since I started here at Pitt State, I’ve been granted responsibility for planning events like this and it’s really prepared me for what I’m going to do for my career,” she said. “It’s taught me about considering everything you need to serve every person here and their unique ability levels, and to practice getting those things in place.” 

“It’s all about providing a very inclusive environment,” she said. “Being able to do this here has given me the chance to form relationships with other students and with organizations throughout the community, and beyond. It has been so rewarding.” 

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Learn more: 

Therapeutic Recreation