Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Meet Therapeutic Recreation grad Jennifer Gilchrist

Photos by David Denofreo 

Jennifer Gilchrist
helps socially isolated seniors and individuals with chronic health conditions increase their wellness and helps older adults recover from knee replacements.

Diploma in Therapeutic Recreation (Douglas College), Bachelor in Therapeutic Recreation (Douglas College, in progress), Registered Personal Trainer

President of Lifetime Leisure Ltd. Practising TR Therapist.

My vision
I saw a niche for TR in the community, in people’s homes, and I had a vision that this service was needed and would be accepted. And it was. I have been able to help socially isolated seniors and individuals with chronic health conditions increase their wellness.

Career goals
To run a successful business while helping prevent social isolation in our communities. Also, to have my business branded throughout our communities and subsidized by the government in order to offer services to people who can’t afford them.

My heroes
My mom, and a client, Nina, who still pumps iron at 96 years old.

Why Douglas?
I was working in with an adult with a mental illness and physical disability and I wanted more education in order to help me further my career. So I searched the Douglas College website and found the TR program. I went to an information session and knew this was how I wanted to contribute to society – through remediating and rehabilitating people back to wellness no matter their age, disability or illness. Most importantly, I wanted to work with youth and older adults who needed help.

On coming back
The diploma changed my life forever and helped me advance in my career. I felt that if I got a degree, the opportunities would be endless.

Valuable lessons
At Douglas I’ve learned that knowledge is power, and that if I didn’t experiment with my ideas and be innovative, I wouldn’t know whether I could accomplish them. Nothing is unattainable if I put my mind to it. I just have to visualize the end result.

On the job
Things are not always as they are supposed to be, and you need to do your research on where and who you are working with. I learned that different professions from mine have very different views of how to work with people. I learned that you need experience, practicum and school in order to be a good therapist.

The challenge
The most frustrating thing for me is that the government is asking for skilled people to help seniors in the community and prevent social isolation by increasing their emotional and social well-being, yet they don’t know who TRs are and what we do. Why do they keep cutting social programs and replacing us with activity aids? We need to be more recognized – and I am going to do just that.

Find out more
Visit the Therapeutic Recreation web page
Attend an information session