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By Danny W. Pettry II, M.Ed., M.S., LPC, NCC, CTRS-BHS

The journey of recreational therapy is a deeply fulfilling one, filled with many milestones and rewards along the path.

But imagine, if you will, enhancing this journey by magnifying the impact you have on your profession.

How can we achieve this?

It’s simply by aligning ourselves with a force much greater than our individual efforts – The American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA).

In this blog, I draw inspiration from John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address. His words – “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” still ring out across the years invoking the spirit of service and motivating action.

Reinterpreting this advice for our profession, let’s recognize this: Don’t ask what ATRA can do for you, ask yourself, what can you do for the profession?

On connecting with a national platform like ATRA, we recreate Kennedy’s vision within our professional sphere. This perspective is especially important now, as the need for quality recreational therapy services has never been greater.

Here’s why.

A Greater Impact on Advocacy

When we make a contribution to ATRA, we’re not just joining an association; we’re amplifying our voice in the advocacy for better service delivery, upgraded professional standards, and improved public policies in our field. Alone we can contribute significantly, but collectively, through a national platform, our contributions reverberate through the industry.

Foster Professional Growth

ATRA offers countless professional development opportunities. With access to educational resources, certified trainings, national conferences, and networking events, ATRA empowers recreational therapists to enhance their skills and expedite growth in their careers. But Kennedy’s mindset flips the narrative. By participating and sharing your unique experiences and knowledge, you contribute to the overall professional growth within our field.

Strengthen the Future of Recreational Therapy

The future of any profession relies on the willingness and capability of its current members to nurture the upcoming generation of therapists. By volunteering, mentoring, and encouraging students and new therapists to join and engage with the ATRA, you are actively securing the future of recreational therapy.

Enhance Research and Best Practices

Your connection with ATRA presents the perfect platform to contribute towards research, case studies, and promoting best practices that improve service delivery. Your unique perspectives and experiences increase our collective understanding and refine therapeutic practices in our field.

Personal and Professional Enhancement

Aligning with Kennedy’s mindset inspires you to harness selflessness, leadership, commitment, and a sense of professional community. These attributes contribute to both personal growth and professional recognition.

In conclusion, by joining the ATRA, you move beyond seeking personal gains, and you begin to contribute to the larger purpose of enriching the field of recreational therapy.

In the words of JFK, the question is not just what ATRA can give you, but what you can offer ATRA, the profession, and, ultimately, those whom we serve. Let’s come together and make therapeutic recreation not just a better profession for ourselves but a beacon of hope and healing for society.

Be a part of something bigger; contribute to ATRA today, and let’s shape the future of therapeutic recreation together.




Disclaimer: Danny Pettry is not a hires spokesman for ATRA. Pettry is not elected to the ATRA board. Pettry is a life