Recreational therapy should be an integral part of service delivery in correctional facilities to contribute to positive mental health and reintegration into the community. Such programming is typically delivered in small groups and can promote positive leisure and increase mental health, facilitate constructive use of leisure time, and aid in the development of critical social and friendship development skills. Meaningful leisure engagement is essential as a form of coping, overall well-being, as well as connecting with others. Further, recreation activities can foster engagement with society when activities are organised with external partners. The rise of mental health and substance abuse issues in correctional facilities has increased drastically in the last few years. In NL, we have seen five institutional deaths within our correctional facilities and there has been a call to action to address the lack of recreation available for incarcerated individuals.
This project will focus on the delivery of recreational therapy at Her Majesty's Penitentiary. Six Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists will develop, deliver and evaluate a 12-week leisure education program focused on mental, social and emotional well-being. In addition to the delivery of the program we will host a day long workshop to bring together professionals and family members interested in better understanding and supporting the use of recreational therapy in corrections. This session will focus on best practices and lessons learned from the leisure education program.
The primary objectives of this project are to: (1) ensure incarcerated individuals have the necessary skills to access recreational opportunities in the community as part of their rehabilitation and reintegration into society; (2) ensure incarcerated individuals understand the value of leisure as part of mental health and recovery; (3) inform the delivery of therapeutic recreation services within corrections in NL; (4) educate interested stakeholders on the importance of the inclusion of recreation therapy as part of services delivery within correctional facilities.