This study investigated the mental health implications of a service-learning partnership between therapeutic recreation (TR) college students and children/youth in a recreation inclusion program. Twenty-five TR students participated in 6-week inclusion program with a child/ youth partner with or without a disability. Resiliency results exhibited a directional increase (d<=.10) with three subscales significant in change for student’s ability to deal with: whatever comes my way (p < .029), seeing the humorous side of things (p < .035), and coping with stress (p < .029). Further analysis found significance that males (p = .045) and racial/ethnic minority participants (p = .021.) had reduced their stress scores. Enjoyment scores significantly increased (p < .001). Analysis of reflection notes revealed two main themes: (1) emotional contagion, and (2) reducing stress and anxiety. These themes relate to key aspects of resilience, which demonstrates the value of service-learning for TR college students and the therapeutic potential for mental health support. Practice and research implications of service learning for TR are presented.
Author Lyn Gorbett Litchke, Toni Watt, Christine Lynn Norton, Casey Finley
Volume Vol. 54, No. 2 (2020)