This International Woman’s Day we bring awareness to the tireless fight to end discrimination, dismantle bias and trek towards inclusion with the themes of Embrace Equity (IWD, 2023) and Every Woman Counts (Government of Canada, 2023). Every woman, girl, non-binary and gender fluid person has a dream. We extend the reach to those dreams – a reach towards equality – when we embrace equity, diversity, and inclusion. Every woman has a place, value and purpose in Canadian Society, and when we embrace equity, we drive success for all. You can learn more about International Women’s Day in Canada here, and to find out more about the movement here.

Join the conversation, work collectively to make positive change, and together form an equal world. Share your stories with us on our social media! This year we’re highlighting just a handful of the amazing women in TR. These TRO members have unique experiences that make the field of TR so great.

Erin Wilkie, R/TRO

Hello, I’m Erin.  I am a Recreation Therapy professor at Niagara College; have been in this field for over 20 years and have loved every day of it.  I grew up in the east coast, completed my TR education at Dalhousie University and internship with Capital Health in Halifax.  I didn’t actually go to school for TR!  I was in school pursuing a career in physiotherapy when I found TR , fell in love, and changed my academic course.  I may be the only TR graduate that has physics and advanced calculus as my electives!  Through those experiences I am grateful to have had the opportunity to make rooted connections with the amazing TR practitioners in Nova Scotia.  I knew I wanted to work with children; the opportunities were rare.  I had to stay true to my passion and explore opportunities across the county, eventually getting hired into a brand-new community role at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Ontario.  It was exciting to create the role and service delivery.  During my time as a practitioner, I became connected to Ontario’s provincial TR association (TRO), serving as a board member for 8 years.  I also got involved in exam writing committees through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).  These opportunities afforded me new learning about the profession and opportunities to network and develop strong relationships with the skilled TR practitioners in Ontario.   After 12.5 years the opportunity presented to move into my educator role.  It was something I knew would provide professional growth for me and an opportunity for someone else to work in pediatrics. ?

Fun fact: I am a beauty school drop out!  After going back to school for hair design, I telephone interviewed for my position at Holland Bloorview from the custodial closet, sitting on an industrial sized package of toilet paper.  I got the job, moved to Toronto 2-weeks later, and began a rewarding career in TR!

 

Holly Graham, R/TRO

Hi fellow TR’s! I’m Holly and I have been working in the field of Therapeutic Recreation for the last 15 years. I am a graduate of the University of Waterloo with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation (2007) and minor in Psychology.

I always knew I wanted to help people, but I fell into TR after a meeting with my high school guidance counsellor, and have never looked back. After graduation, I began my journey in paediatrics, followed by Stroke Rehabilitation (18+), which is where I have focused the bulk of my professional career. Working within an interdisciplinary team has provided  plenty of opportunity to educate others on the value of TR. We are all exceptional advocates, and it has been rewarding for me to show other healthcare professionals the impact TR has on a patient’s health and wellbeing. The profession has helped shape my ‘glass-half-full’ attitude, and has fostered my own personal feelings of meaning and purpose in life.

Last fall I made the decision to leave my hospital job and open my own TR private practice, Beyond Recreation Therapy. This part of my journey is just beginning, but I hope to be able to continue to do the job I love, working in a rehabilitation capacity with a broader population. Helping people regain the confidence to do what they love is the best job there is. TR is what I was meant to do!

 

Leigh-Ann Hammond, R/TRO

When I started my education journey, I went with no intention or goal of where I wanted to go or what my career adventure would look like. It was during my first year I got a taste of all opportunities that are available within the Recreation and Leisure realm. It was then I decided that Recreation therapy, was where my focus was going to be. Graduating from the University of Waterloo, with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and a Gerontology minor cemented my career path. Now proud of being in the industry for over 20 years working in a variety of venues. Starting in the hospital setting working on the Geriatric Psychiatry unit, moving into Retirement Homes and for a number of years in Long-Term Care.

My goal was to implement all techniques that I had learned in school, specifically being able to facilitate and implement programs that foster maintaining or increasing independence with person-centered care as the focus. Most importantly my/our goal is all about improving overall quality of life. Bringing joy to older adults lives and seeing smiles on their faces, drove me to become registered with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario exemplifying a higher level of understanding and program implementation.

Fun Fact: I worked with the Military for 10 years where I had the opportunity to hike the Chilkoot Trail up north in the Yukon.

 

Divijaa Sahni 
Hello, my name is Divijaa Sahni, and I am a student studying Therapeutic Recreation and Psychology at the University of Waterloo. As an international student, TR was a career path which intrigued me the most. As an individual who is always keen to help, I believe that this was the perfect path for me and it not only made me love and care for only people who are disabled but everyone who struggles with anything. I am currently working as a Special Projects assistant with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario on my first co-op and while working here I have realized that Therapeutic Recreation means so much more than just a profession which involves leisure and play. Being in this career path, I aspire to improve the quality of life of individuals, help them flourish in every sphere of life and help them in being aware of their strengths rather than weaknesses and help them lead a flourishing life!

One of my hobbies is I love to bake and cook and I do it pretty often. I usually cook Indian cuisine but lately I have been trying to make Italian and Greek as well!

Established in 1999, Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO) is the only professional association that represents Therapeutic Recreation practitioners in the province.

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