Texas State: Where Diverse Athletes and Expertise Meet
As the only college in the state of Texas that offers undergraduate and master’s programs in therapeutic recreation, the College of Education understands the immense benefits of working with diverse athletes and sees the need for more professionals in recreational therapy.
According to the Texas Regional Paralympic Sport’s (TRPS) website, “there are more than 21 million Americans living with a physical disability.” As an organization, TRPS is working in the Texas area to help expand opportunities for these individuals to participate in ongoing sports and recreation programs at the community level.
When TRPS approached Department of Health and Human Performance senior lecturer Allie Thomas to host a statewide Track and Field Clinic, she had one thought: “What an amazing opportunity for our university!”
Thomas, who is very active with the Paralympic Sport community as a recreation therapist, understood the benefits students would gain working with TRPS and saw the potential of building a collaboration.
Students from both the recreational administration and athletic training programs helped schedule, plan, and implement this large-scale state event. They secured sponsorships from local agencies to reduce costs for the athletes, checked people in and out, and handled risk management for the athletes by helping to transform and manage the venue. Additionally, the athletic training students were on the track to help decrease risks as the athletes were participating in events.
The attendees of the Track and Field Clinic varied in age and ability. Some athletes were as young as six, others were 50, and while some were attempting to advance to the next level of Paralympic Sport, others were just beginning. Furthermore, the clinic offered a coaches-track and an athletes-track where workshops/events were presented by U.S. Paralympic athletes and coach medalists.
Thomas believes that these community events provide valuable experiences for students to build their skillset working with diverse populations.
“By allowing students from the athletic training and recreational administration programs to participate … they were able to understand the difficulties with the lack of accessibility in our world for these athletes and problem-solve how we manage this in our field of recreation therapy,” explained Thomas.
Thanks to the help and support provided by Texas State University and the Department of Athletics, the Texas Regional Paralympic Sport has found a new home for its statewide Track and Field Clinic. Thomas confirmed that they have been asked to continue hosting every year due to “the location, energetic students, and expertise they hold in the area.”