Alesha Reed is in her final weeks at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan and is set to graduate with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation this September. As part of the school’s graduation requirements, Alesha spent the summer interning with Craig Hospital’s Therapeutic Recreation program and learned endless skills that are not taught in the classroom. “I never anticipated all that I would learn from my experience at Craig,” says Alesha. “I owe this new-found knowledge to all the therapists, doctors, volunteers, and most importantly the patients and families at Craig.”
Through her internship, Alesha was exposed to the many opportunities Craig Hospital’s Therapeutic Recreation program provides patients. “After experiencing a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, patients often report a sense of loss and are in the process of adjusting to their new life,” she says. “Therapeutic Recreation gives patients the opportunity to try activities they never thought were possible and helps them get back to living their life outside of hospital walls.”
As part of her internship program, Alesha was required to complete a project showcasing what she learned during her time at Craig. She wanted to find something that would complement Colorado’s outdoor lifestyle; after learning about the new Staunton State Park Track Chair program, she knew she wanted to focus her project on promoting the accessible hiking program to patients at Craig and beyond. “I wanted to empower patients and show them they can still participate in activities they enjoy,” says Alesha.
To bring her project to life, Alesha organized a therapeutic recreation outing for a patient that combined two of his passions, filming & the outdoors. “The outing itself was extremely therapeutic. We worked on unique transfers, improving dexterity while driving the chair, family education for personal care needs outside of Craig, and showed him adaptive equipment that will help him continue doing what he loves,” says Alesha. The track chairs can be modified to a patient’s level of ability. If an individual has the skills, they can control the chair on their own with a joystick. If a patient does not have grip strength or ability to use his or her hands or arms, modifications can be made.
Staunton State Park Program is the only one like it in the country. “With this video, I hope that other state parks can see & appreciate the value in having this type of equipment and consider starting a program in their own states.”
By the end of her internship, Alesha developed an even bigger appreciation of therapeutic recreation. “Thank you to Craig and the therapists who love what they do. Working with individuals who have been thrown one of the toughest curve-balls life could bring gives me perspective which drives my passion for showing patients that life can still be enjoyable after their injury. It might look a little different than before, but it is still worth living,” says Alesha.
Check out this video of the adaptive hiking therapeutic recreation outing that was organized by Craig intern, Alesha Reed, for her final project!