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A bold new vision for Therapeutic Recreation Ontario

MAY 29, 2019 – On behalf of the Board of Directors of TRO, I wanted to share with you an exciting announcement from TRO that was made today during our Annual General Meeting, held during the TRO 2019 Conference in Niagara Falls.

I am excited to share with you TRO Board of Directors’ bold vision for our association, and for the profession going forward during this, our 20th anniversary year.

Three years ago, the TRO Board of Directors implemented a three-year strategic plan which focused on three pillars: Building and Strengthening TRO Member Services, Advancing the TR Profession, and Establishing Strategic and Collaborative Relationships. We’ve regularly reported the good progress we have made in accomplishing most of the goals identified in the plan in our e-TRO newsletter and at previous annual meetings. As we came to the conclusion of that strategic plan this year, the board determinedly set out to develop a new direction.

Working with a facilitator, we spent an entire weekend mapping out the future of TRO. We started right from the beginning, reviewing and evaluating the vision, mission, strategic goals, objectives and outcomes. We took into consideration where we’ve come from, a new organization that started 20 years ago, and assessed where we are today acknowledging our significant progress.  

Twenty years of progress

TRO has come a long way in 20 years. Past boards, committees and volunteers built a solid foundation, including:

  • a code of ethics, standards of practice, scope of practice
  • two Registration designations
  • TRPR Journal of TRO
  • working with our college and university partners to develop consistent academic standards with the end result of delivering TR professionals who have the skills and competencies ready to enter practice
  • a solid offering of quality professional development opportunities through our annual conference, webinars and regional workshops
  • employing technology to communicate with our members through the website, social media and our association membership database
  • doubling our membership base in just six years! 

This past year, we focused on continuous quality improvement and built into our plan the evaluation of several of our initiatives. The most significant undertaking was the evaluation of the TRO Registration designation, where a panel of four evaluators began last fall to assess the entire Registration process. Members were engaged in the process through a survey in which we had 181 responses. The evaluators also conducted 25 interviews with a variety of stakeholders including members, non-members, people who are registered, those who have no intention of registering, employers and educators. They assessed and evaluated all this feedback and presented the board with 21 recommendations. 

Another initiative underway is the evaluation of the TRO Regional Ambassador role, which started three years ago and for which we will also be seeking member feedback. And as always, we will endeavour to apprise the membership of our progress and final outcomes.  

Looking ahead

Then….we looked to the future. Times are changing and TRO has to keep pace. Technology is changing the way we do business. Access to information is changing the reason why people join associations. TRO needs to change in order to remain relevant to our members. 

We started with our Vision Statement: “Uniting and advancing the Therapeutic Recreation profession.”

And then we let our imaginations soar as we explored the possibilities. What do we envision for Therapeutic Recreation in Ontario? What are the possibilities for our next 20 years? Indeed, we began to see that the possibilities are unlimited. And then it became clear for all of us. We want an Ontario where anyone who wants and can benefit from Recreation Therapy to have access to it. As we thought about TRO’s role in determining that future, we saw TRO leading the way – building a stronger foothold and charting new ground. We see a big, bold future for the TR profession and the professionals who practice in it. 

Our new Vision

And so, with an acknowledgement to the past, where TRO was the “leader in uniting and advancing the Therapeutic Recreation profession,” we looked forward to the future and saw a new vision of: 

“Therapeutic Recreation for All”

Of course, inherent in that vision is uniting and advancing the Therapeutic Recreation profession, and more. The board realized that if we want a big, bold future for the profession, we need to move beyond talking to just the profession, that we need to be talking and influencing other stakeholders such as employers, government, allied professions, as well as directly to clients and patients of our services and their families. 

Our new Mission 

To accomplish our vision, we were compelled to redefine our mission statement from one in which we were 

“guiding, supporting, educating, and advocating to enable the Therapeutic Recreation practitioner to deliver quality professional services.”

to a statement that clarified our purpose and focused our energy; one that is concise, informative, compelling, rolls off the tongue and is memorable. It is:   

“Leading the TR profession through growth, advocacy and innovation.”

Our mission will drive our focus on four new pillars:

Sustainable Growth

What do we mean by this?

  • When we talk about Technology, we mean communicating effectively using established and new capabilities to reach our audiences.
  • When we talk about Engagement, we mean actively engaging our members and other key audiences in the work of TRO.
  • By Advocacy we mean being the voice and recognized lead resource for the interests and on the issues that advance recreation therapy and its practitioners in Ontario.
  • And by Sustainable Growth, we mean that it is imperative that we diversify and grow revenues including membership and non-dues revenue to support this work. 

We have started the work to reposition TRO for the future, and we have to start with the very foundation of how we do business. So we are beginning with revising our bylaws so our governance rules will be clearer and provide more flexibility. This will be accomplished by the next annual general meeting where we will ask the membership to vote on the new bylaws. We have redrawn our committee structure so that we are focusing our energy on our priorities. The new committee structure can be found on our website.  We are exploring new ways of delivering professional development opportunities for our members. We have just recruited a volunteer Volunteer Coordinator to develop clear processes for managing our volunteers. We are incorporating technology that will soon enable you to make your membership payments through an e-transfer. These are just a few of the initiatives underway and there are more on the horizon. On one level it all seems so easy, but I assure you, there is an unbelievable amount of planning and work going on behind the scenes to make it happen.    

The Board of Directors values the trust and faith you have placed in us to ensure that TRO and our members are well-positioned for the future. 

Dear Members, TRO is your association. We are on the cusp of significant change and I invite you, our membership, to join us as we chart a new bold future. 

We hope you are as excited about the future as we are. We invite you to share your thoughts and comments. Please be sure to connect with us. 

Katherine Plested, R/TRO
TRO President


Study examines outcomes for stroke survivors 

MAY 14, 2019 – Do you work with stroke survivors in Complex Continuing Care (CCC) or Long-Term Care (LTC)? A report was released in 2018 by CorHealth Ontario and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) that looked at the care and outcomes in these two settings over a five-year period. Here is a summary of that report and an infographic illustrating care and outcomes of stroke survivors admitted to CCC and LTC in 2015. Please note the information on Recreation Therapy in these two settings. 

Sue Verrilli, R/TRO, President-Elect of TRO, was a part of the development team for this report and would be interested in hearing your thoughts or feedback. Please feel free to contact her at sverrilli@hsnsudbury.ca.


President’s Message

April 2019

The TRO Board of Directors has not let the winter blues get them down. They have demonstrated a commitment to continuing to move our profession forward. I would like to share some highlights of their efforts here:

Strategic Plan – We are putting the finishing touches on our three-year Strategic Plan, and look forward to announcing it at the TRO Conference in May. 

Advocacy Work – planting the seeds with various stakeholders continues to be a focus for the Board of Directors. Over the past three months, meetings and presentations were held with the following organizations:

  • The meeting with the South West LHIN occurred prior to the change of health care announcement by the provincial government. At the time, the meeting had a focus on creating a foundation of knowledge of Therapeutic Recreation, demonstrating where TR is presently being practiced within this LHIN catchment, and identifying the benefits and alignment TR has with the SW LHIN’s key priorities. The recommendations from this meeting identified various opportunities for TR to be used a solution; specifically with the senior aging friendly movement, hospital wait times, and long-term care wait times.
  • The Ontario Association of Residents Council (OARC) is already a key stakeholder in the Ministry of Health. Creating a relationship with OARC has been identified as a priority, as many TR professionals work within long-term care and play a vital role in the lived resident experience. We are excited for future opportunities to work together. 
  • Lastly, a meeting was held to better understand the Social Prescription Pilot facilitated by the Alliance for Healthier Communities that was featured in the Toronto Star in 2018. Throughout this conversation, it became evident the significant role TR plays within this area, as the intention of social prescription echoes the TR profession. We learned that there are no TR professionals within the social prescription pilot, as this pilot has been executed with existing interdisciplinary teams. In turn, this identifies the need for continued advocacy work both at a provincial and local level. 

The TRO Board has made a commitment to continuous quality improvement, which requires us to take the time to review and evaluate. 

Review of TRO’s By-laws – Given the changing external environment, it was time for the by-laws to be reviewed with a critical eye to ensure they aligned with the present practice of the Board of Directors and vision of TRO. This is presently being reviewed. 

Review of Registration Designation – We encourage you to sign up for the TRO conference session on Thursday, May 30 to learn about the recommendations that came from the Registration Designation Evaluation (register here). 

Review of Membership Services – We are conducting a review of the TRO awards program, as well as the impact and roles of TRO Regional Ambassadors. 

Last but not least, the Board would like to acknowledge the various education opportunities that have been or are being organized to serve the membership interest in professional growth. 

We are looking forward to celebrating our 20th Anniversary in Niagara Falls at the 2019 TRO Conference. It will be a time to reminisce and reflect on what TRO has accomplished and where TRO is going for the next 20 years. 


Kind Regards, 
Katherine Plested, R/TRO
TRO President


A very responsive turnout for Education Day 2019

Thank you to all our speakers and attendees for making the latest TRO Education Day in Woodbridge such a success. More than 80 TR professionals took part in “TR and Supporting Responsive Behaviours” held at Villa Leonardo Gambin in Woodbridge on March 27. 

The day began with a special welcome message delivered remotely by Monica Bretzlaff, manager of Behavioural Supports Ontario. TRO appreciates her recognition of the value our members bring to the health care system and to quality of life.

Thanks to Event Chair Sonia Roul, R/TRO and the organizing team: – Nancy de Vera, R/TRO, Hali Fitzpatrick, R/TRO, Nancy Kahl, R/TRO, Preet Momi, Louise Facca, and Rozalyn Werner-Arcé – for organizing a successful event with a roster of informative speakers. 

Stay tuned for information about future one-day education and networking events within other areas of the province.


TR and Behaviours, November 16, 2018, Sudbury

Thank you to all our speakers and attendees for making the latest TRO Education Day in Sudbury such a great event. Special guest France Gélinas (pictured, right), MPP for Nickel Belt and NDP Health Critic, welcomed more than 40 TR professionals to the TR and Behaviours Education Day. TRO appreciates her recognition of the value our members bring to the health care system and to quality of life.

Thanks also to Event Chair Sue Verrilli, R/TRO (pictured, left) and the organizing team – Rhiannon Buffet, R/TRO; Hilary Grieve, R/TRO; Heather Hawrellek; Kai Santala, R/TRO; and Heidi Slotegraaf, R/TRO – for putting together a roster of informative speakers to help Therapeutic Recreation professionals support their clients. 

TRO is working to develop future one-day education and networking events within other areas of the province. 



Do you know an R/TRO Member who has made an impact with their clients, is an excellent advocate for TR, or an outstanding team player? Nominate them to be highlighted in the TRO Blog by downloading and completing the following form:

Nominate an R/TRO for the Blog


Upcoming Events

2019 TRO Golf Tournament

September 22nd, 2019

TRO is pleased to be hosting our very first golf tournament! Join us on Sunday, September 22 at Doon Valley Golf Course for a great day of recreation and socializing with your peers! There will also be an Adaptive Golf education session beforehand (approved for 1 PCC point). For the tournament, we will be doing a shotgun start and best ball so players of all abilities are welcome to join the fun. Join us afterward for a gourmet dinner and the opportunity to win some amazing prizes!

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