Recreational therapy faculty members Brent Hawkins and Marieke Van Puymbroeck receive the Excellence in Education award on behalf of the program.

Recreational therapy faculty members Brent Hawkins and Marieke Van Puymbroeck receive the Excellence in Education award on behalf of the program.

CLEMSON — Clemson University’s recreational therapy program has received the Excellence in Education award from the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, one of the highest honors in the field.

The Excellence in Education award is given to a clinical agency or institution of higher education that has distinguished itself through outstanding contributions to the recreational therapy profession.

To qualify for the award, Clemson’s program met qualifications such as developing exceptional instructional materials for profession preparation and providing students with quality professional experience in recreational therapy (RT).

“The program has re-created what an innovative program in RT can look like,” according to nomination materials for the award. “The faculty has infused experiential learning into an integrated undergraduate curriculum that provides supported hands-on RT experiences with patients, while also providing graduate students with real experiences providing clinical supervision. This unique pioneering program can serve as a model to other RT programs, and can be implemented at peer institutions.”

The nomination materials also noted the program’s collaborative spirit, including faculty plans for collaboration with another southeastern university, which will provide students with enhanced learning opportunities that exceed the resources available in the routine university environment.

Housed in the parks, recreation and tourism management department, The recreational therapy program offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as a minor. The program’s curriculum is designed to meet contemporary needs in practice and standards set forth by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, including numerous experiential learning opportunities for students at all educational levels.

“We are so proud of this award,” said Marieke Van Puymbroeck, the program’s coordinator. “We have worked hard to become a leading program in the field and we believe that we offer exceptional learning opportunities for our students.”

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American Therapeutic Recreation Association
The American Therapeutic Recreation Association is the largest national membership organization representing the interests and needs of therapeutic recreation specialists, also known as recreation therapists. The association provides a vast array of membership services focusing on professional practice, professional development, external affairs, advocacy, treatment networking and educational services. Specifically, the association leads the profession with nationally recognized professional standards of practice, code of ethics and competency guidelines.