Therapeutic Recreation Services

CONTACT INFORMATION: Hours: 8 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday - Friday
703-324-5532 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway, 10th Floor
Fairfax, VA 22035
Sandi Dallhoff

Therapeutic Recreation Services Goes Virtual, Impacts little Learners in a Big Way

Preschool activity kit suppliesNCS Therapeutic Recreation Services provides opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to develop the skills that enable them to participate in the recreation and leisure programs of their choice. When the team’s in-person programs had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 last year, they quickly began developing a slew of virtual activities to continue supporting their participants.

In May 2020, TRS transitioned its spring and summer programs to Zoom, a virtual platform. TRS provided a wide array of virtual activities – all at no cost – for both youth and adults, from social and exercise activities to arts and crafts. After seeing success with this initial program, TRS innovated again and created a Little Adapted Virtual Adventures Preschool Learn & Play program for 2- to 5-year-olds, co-led by parents.

This program focused on early intervention and continued engagement for our youngest population. In addition to the virtual engagement platform, it included Preschool Activity Bags with age-appropriate manipulatives, crafts, social engagement activities and games that focused on fine and gross motor skills.

The activity bags were deemed immediately necessary, as TRS realized they were missing a crucial audience: those without access to the technology to participate in Zoom sessions. Using the activity bags, families were able to engage in a wide array of activities without needing access to technology.

TRS had initially planned on handing out 30 preschool activity bags. However, word quickly spread and within hours of opening registration, TRS had over 75 requests. Again, the team quickly adapted and tripled their supply order to accommodate all participants who enrolled.

They received more than 20 emails from parents thanking them for the program. 

'This Is Exactly What We Needed'

Of the response, TRS Branch Manager Ashley Cunningham said, “The parents were so appreciative. We got so many emails saying ‘Thank you, this is exactly what we needed’” and ‘Not only are they having fun, but they are learning!’ It’s awesome to see the kids engage and their language and attention span improve.”

One parent wrote, “Thank you so much for the bag! My son is going to love the things in it, and I really appreciate how some of them will help him in the years to come (e.g., the counting blocks).” Another said, “I greatly appreciate your efforts for thinking of our kids to entertain and make it more fun during this pandemic.”

More Virtual Programs On the Way

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into winter and spring, TRS will focus on further expanding programming to include replacing the ever-popular in-person adult New Year’s party with a virtual event featuring contests, activities and door prizes. Every participant will receive New Year’s activity bags filled with crafts, games and festive items.

Additionally, TRS will offer virtual Preschool Learn & Play, Youth Social Clubs, Adult Social Clubs, Hot Topics (in partnership with Regional Services and Center Operations), Spring Activity Bags for all populations, and even a cooking event for older youth called Family Night Sunday Bites.

For all the TRS efforts since the pandemic began, Ashley Cunningham expressed how proud she is of the team: “We’re serving so many returning and new participants, who are spreading the word about these amazing and impactful virtual programs available within Therapeutic Recreation,” she said. “Until we can go back in person, what the TR team has done thus far is a great collaboration between virtual and hands-on at-home activities.”

For more information on Therapeutic Recreation Services, see the NCS website.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant