Recreation Therapy for Seniors: Supporting the Whole Person, Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually & Intellectually
Written by Kensington Health and Medical Pharmacies Group Limited
Leading a healthy lifestyle is about more than just nutrition and exercise. It’s important to incorporate a variety of recreational activities every day for optimal health. That’s why every February, we celebrate Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month, a time to remember that something as simple as taking a walk or learning to play an instrument can have numerous health benefits. You can do this on your own or through organized recreation therapy.
Recreation therapy uses traditional recreational activities like exercise, music, art, and crafting to help support the whole person, focusing on the mental and social supports, as much as the physical. For older adults in particular, developing and maintaining an active lifestyle and having a support network is crucial for both mental and physical wellness.
Our partner in care, Kensington Health, supports seniors across the City of Toronto by providing recreation therapy through its Second Mile Club.
Second Mile Club runs an active senior centre focused on providing quality recreation therapy for adults aged 55+, as well as those living with a disability. The Club strives to help seniors make connections and create their own community through a series of recreational programs. For example, one exercise class has been the catalyst for many lifelong friendships.
“Recreation therapy is important because you are supporting the whole person. You are not just treating someone piecemeal. You are looking at everything that affects them – emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually – all of those things that are important to someone, and meet them where they are.” – Rebecca Buttigieg, Day Program Manager, Second Mile Club
When the COVID-19 pandemic first began in March 2020, Second Mile Club closed its doors to in-person activities, at the risk of cutting off a thriving community that they created. However, the Club’s team made every effort to stay connected with community members through daily phone calls and a new email newsletter.
As it became clear that the pandemic would continue for the foreseeable future, the Club began to develop and offer online exercise classes, waiving all membership fees for 2021. The Club also encourages anyone interested in Second Mile Club programming to join the mailing list.
Today, the Club is proud to offer over 20 classes each week: from seated fitness to cooking classes, to an afternoon meet-and-greet with the therapy dogs from St. John’s Ambulance.
Second Mile Club is able to offer a diverse range of classes, thanks to the wonderful volunteers and student partnerships with the University of Toronto and George Brown College. The Club always welcomes volunteers who want to design and lead a class. Dean, started at Second Mile Club as a volunteer when he was in grade 12, and has now been a member for years and teaches the bridge classes.
“Without Second Mile, I would be bored; it is great we can all get together, even if just virtually.” – Dean, SMC Member
“The best result of my attending Second Mile Club was the many friends I made, and to this day – during the pandemic – we keep in touch” – June, SMC Member
To find out more about Second Mile Club and its recreation therapy program, and how you can join, check out the links below.
- Short video about recreation therapy
- Second Mile Club mailing list
- Most recent newsletter (class schedule at bottom)
- Upper body workout class
Second Mile Club History
The Second Mile Club was founded in 1937 to create a place where older adults could have a community. In 2015, Second Mile Club joined Kensington Health to provide safe, recreational spaces with accessible, welcoming services for older adults and those living with disabilities.
Today, the Club has grown into a multicultural centre across three locations, focusing on the enhancement of the social, intellectual, and physical well-being of its community members. The Club also provides social work and in-home support for clients and caregivers.
The physical locations of the club are currently closed due to the pandemic; but recreational offerings are available through a digital format, helping create a sense of community from the members’ own homes. Social work supports also continue to operate remotely.