Marieke Van Puymbroeck, recreational therapy program coordinator and professor in Clemson’s parks, recreation and tourism management department, was recently named president-elect of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association. The association appointed its new board Sept. 13 in Chicago, Illinois.

This three-year commitment allows Van Puymbroeck to serve as president-elect for the first year, president for the second and past-president for the third. As president-elect, she will learn to lead the organization and develop her plan for presidency. She will also serve on the personnel, finance and executive committees of the organization. Van Puymbroeck is excited about what this appointment means for her department and the recreational therapy program.

Marieke Van Puymbroeck

Marieke Van Puymbroeck (right), was recently named president-elect of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association.
Image Credit: Marieke Van Puymbroeck

“This will bring greater visibility to Clemson’s recreational therapy program and the department of parks, recreation, and tourism management,” Van Puymbroeck said. “We are already seen as one of the best in the country and this is an exciting time for us.”

According to Van Puymbroeck, recreational therapy uses recreation and leisure to improve function and well-being in individuals with disabilities. The goal is to prepare patients to manage their illness or disability and improve their independence, productivity and quality of life. The association leads the way in advocacy, promotion, support and empowerment of recreational therapists, and Van Puymbroeck said she is looking forward to having an influence on such a revered organization.

Clemson is already considered a pioneer in the delivery of recreational therapy programs. In June, the university began offering the first online Ph.D. in recreational therapy in response to a growing need for educators in the field. Van Puymbroeck said the online program will ensure Clemson students play a large part in shaping future recreational therapists across the country, and her appointment to the association will allow her to influence progress in the field on a national level.

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association is a non-profit organization that formed in response to the growing concern of changes in the healthcare industry. It represents the needs and issues of the therapeutic recreation profession. The association also provides a vast array of membership services focusing on professional practice, professional development, external affairs, treatment networking and educational services. It is the only membership organization for recreation therapists.