Laura Oldford is a Recreation Therapist at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton. She is one of two rec therapists at SCCR, and works with people all over the province, specializing with people with neurological impairments (brain/spine). She works with people across the lifespan, which is unique at Stan Cassidy. She started at Memorial in Newfoundland in Kinesiology, then tested out Recreation Therapy and switched programs. She finished her undergrad there, wrote a national exam (Certified Therapeutic Recreational Therapist), and got her Masters in Integrated studies from Athabasca with a focus on disability awareness.
If anyone asks you who you are, you never start with what’s wrong with you, more of what’s important to you. Laura’s really passionate about the fact that disability doesn’t need to be on the forefront of people. Rec Therapy is a strength focused program- focusing on what’s right with you vs what’s wrong with you. Rec Therapists help clients achieve their goals regarding what they want to do with their time and what they want to get out of life. The harder things are, the less apt we are to do things, but often those are the more rewarding things.
Laura works with the tools that can be given to clients that can help them live a better life and helps clients try these out to see what works best for them. She also helps people identify what’s available in clients’ communities.
Laura mentioned a lot of access is gained through phone access, which is being looked at right now at the centre. Many of Laura’s clients are “Gamers” so she, along with an Occupational Therapist, has created an adapted gaming service for clients. In “Game Changers”, they have a variety of systems and adapted controllers, as well as modifiers that can work across platforms. Laura helps identify what movements are needed to play these games and what would work best for clients to play. This project is being evaluated from a research perspective at the same time in partnership with SOAR through Horizon.
The real intention in Recreation Therapy is to level the playing field for people with disabilities, allowing someone to choose and not letting their disability define or limit them. Their work also looks with the social and emotional pieces of a client’s life- what they love vs what they need to do to stay active or functional.
People need to have knowledge about recreation and leisure opportunities that are important to them, and rec therapists are catalysts/gateways to those areas in the world of rehab and disability. Everyone deserves the right to leisure, and the goal is for independence with this.
SCCR also does a lot of community outings to show how clients can still go out and how that works while in a supportive environment.
There are lots of organizations that Laura relies on for resources and events (links below)!
Laura’s top 3:
Favourite place in NB: Her cottage in Yoho lake. https://goo.gl/maps/yhj3znjnKp52
Favourite food: Pizza.
Favourite activity: Stand Up Paddle boarding! And also biking with her kids.
Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation: http://www.stancassidy.ca/
SCCR Foundation Info on Game Changers: http://stancassidyfoundation.ca/en/news/stan_cassidy_foundation_awards_30000_for_first_accessible_gaming_service_in_canada
Para NB: http://paranb.ca/
Parasport NB: http://www.parasportnb.ca/
Ability NB : https://www.abilitynb.ca/
Universal Design: http://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/