National Therapeutic Recreation Month – February 2023

National Therapeutic Recreation Month is observed in February to appreciate the works of recreation therapists. It also focuses on raising awareness of the importance of participating in activities that help people with disabilities recover and heal. Did you know that therapeutic recreation goes as far back as the 1850s with Florence Nightingale? Therapeutic recreation is the use of leisure activities to promote the health, emotional wellbeing, skills, and abilities of people with illnesses or disabilities. Therapeutic recreation includes drama, music, arts and crafts, sports, dance and movement, as well as games. Therapeutic recreation is available in various settings, including hospitals, schools, community centers, sports programs, and assisted living facilities.

History of National Therapeutic Recreation Month

Recreation has always been part and parcel of human lives in one form or another. The earliest organized recreation in human history can be traced to ancient Egypt. Recreation then was determined by a class system, where the lower class participated in athletics and sports, and the upper class spectated for entertainment. By 641 A.D., recreational activities, such as swimming, running, ball games, and board games, were played in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

With the advent of industrialization in the 18th and 19th centuries, recreation became regimented and bound by time. During this period, the recreation movement began in the United States — an export from Berlin, Germany, by Dr. Marie Zakrzewska. That led to the development of a playground in 1885 at the Children’s Mission on Parameter Street in Boston. The community used this playground to carry out drills under the guidance of matrons. Due to its success and contribution to the community’s wellbeing, several playgrounds were developed across Boston through the efforts of the Massachusetts Emergency and Hygiene Association.

The years between the 1940s and 1950s marked the beginning of therapeutic recreation as a profession. That was years after Florence Nightingale introduced the idea of using recreation to improve a patient’s health. The Red Cross hired recreation workers to provide hospital recreation programs to wounded and traumatized soldiers during World War II. After the war, the programs were established in the Veterans’ Administration (V.A.) Hospital system. Over the years, recreation therapy programs spread to state psychiatric hospitals and state residential schools for persons with mental disabilities. In the 1960s, the National Therapeutic Recreation Society (N.T.R.S.) was established as a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association (N.R.P.A.). The society went on to form National Therapeutic Recreation Week in 1984. Due to various disagreements, recreation therapists broke from the organization and formed the American Therapeutic Recreation Association on June 12, 1984. After its creation, the A.T.R.A. assumed responsibility for the National Therapeutic Recreation Week and made February National Therapeutic Recreation Month.

National Therapeutic Recreation Month timeline

1940s - 1950s
The Beginning of Recreation Therapists

The Red Cross hires recreation workers to provide hospital recreation programs.

1960s
The Formation of N.T.R.S.

The National Therapeutic Recreation Society becomes an association under the National Recreation and Park Association.

1984
The Birth of National Therapeutic Recreation Week

N.T.R.S. designates the second week of July as the National Therapeutic Recreation Week.

1984
The Establishment of A.T.R.A.

Recreation therapists establish the American Therapeutic Recreation Association on June 12.

National Therapeutic Recreation Month FAQs

What is an example of recreational therapy?

Examples of recreational therapy include art therapy, music therapy, yoga and meditation, and various outdoor activities.

What is the goal of recreational therapy?

Recreational therapy focuses on helping people with disabilities or illnesses live fully functional and independent lives.

What is the difference between therapeutic recreation and recreational therapy?

While recreational therapy is the practice, therapeutic recreation is the field. Recreational therapists are professionals that study therapeutic recreation and practice recreational therapy.

How to Observe National Therapeutic Recreation Month

  1. Show appreciation

    National Therapeutic Recreation Month is all about celebrating the good works of recreation therapists. So, if you have a recreation therapist that has been crucial to your wellbeing, you can send them a thank-you note or card, a mug, or get them their favorite meal from their favorite restaurant. If you own a practice with a therapeutic recreation department, you can appreciate your recreation therapists by giving them a gift or taking them out for lunch.

  2. Host a discussion on therapeutic recreation

    Many people don’t know about therapeutic recreation or its benefits to people living with disabilities, illnesses, or elderly people. As a practice, you can use this National Therapeutic Recreation Month to educate people about it. Host a panel discussion with recreation therapists, discussing therapeutic recreation and its benefits. You can have this panel discussion online to reach a wider audience or at your local community center.

  3. Organize a contest

    Games are a part of therapeutic recreation activities, and your recreation therapists will enjoy participating in them. The games can be hosted at your practice, or better yet, at the local community center, where everyone can participate. These games could be chess or other board games, dancing, running, and art competitions.

5 Mind-Blowing Facts About Recreation

  1. Americans love recreation

    According to a report by the Physical Activity Council, about 60% of Americans participated in some type of outdoor sport in 2018.

  2. Cycling goods are the most profitable

    Cycling sports goods rake in up to $51 billion per year.

  3. Running has a place in Americans’ hearts

    About 58 million Americans participate in running every year, more than any other outdoor activity.

  4. Americans are big outdoor recreation spenders

    Americans spend a whopping $120 billion on outdoor recreation equipment and gear each year.

  5. China has the most bicycles globally

    There are more than half a billion bicycles within the country’s borders.

Why National Therapeutic Recreation Month is Important

  1. Therapeutic recreation strengthens interpersonal skills and relationships

    Disabilities or illnesses can prevent people from fully interacting with other people, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. By engaging in group therapeutic recreational activities, these individuals can develop friendships and social bonds, which helps reduce their sense of isolation and uplift their spirits.

  2. Therapeutic recreation improves physical strength

    Therapeutic recreation usually involves intense activities such as tai chi, yoga, exercise, and dance. People that participate in these activities experience improvement in their balance, flexibility, and physical strength.

  3. Therapeutic recreation promotes cognitive abilities

    Therapeutic recreation helps improve the healthy functioning of the mind through activities that stimulate the brain. These include social interaction, physical exercise, and mental games such as chess and brain challenges.

National Therapeutic Recreation Month dates

YearDateDay
2022February 1Tuesday
2023February 1Wednesday
2024February 1Thursday
2025February 1Saturday
2026February 1Sunday
La Poutine Week
National Patient Recognition Week
Solo Diners Eat Out Week
Women's Heart Week
World Interfaith Harmony Week
Abolition of Slavery Day
Car Insurance Day
Change Your Password Day
Decorating With Candy Day
Federal Territory Day
G.I. Joe Day
Heroes' Day
Hula in the Coola Day
Imbolc
International Face and Body Art Day
National Baked Alaska Day
National Dark Chocolate Day
National Freedom Day
National Get Up Day
National Girls and Women in Sports Day
National Serpent Day
National Signing Day
National Texas Day
Robinson Crusoe Day
Spunky Old Broads Day
Tet Nguyen Dan
World Hijab Day
World Read Aloud Day
Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month
African American Heritage Month
American Heart Month
An Affair to Remember Month
Berry Fresh Month
Bike To Work Month
Black History Month
Canned Food Month
Celebration of Chocolate Month
Cholangiocarcinoma Awareness Month
Creative Romance Month
Declutter for a Cause Month
Dog Training Education Month
Financial Aid Awareness Month
From Africa to Virginia Month
Great American Pie Month
Human Relations Month
Humpback Whale Awareness Month
International Boost Self Esteem Month
International Expect Success Month
International Friendship Month
International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month
LGBT+ History Month
Love the Bus Month
Marfan Syndrome Awareness Month
National Arts Month
National Bake For Family Fun Month
National Bird Feeding Month
National Cancer Prevention Month
National Care About Your Indoor Air Month
National Cat Health Month
National Cherry Month
National Children’s Dental Health Month
National Condom Month
National Embroidery Month
National Fasting February
National Fondue Month
National Grapefruit Month
National Haiku Writing Month
National Heart Healthy Month
National Hot Breakfast Month
National Laugh-Friendly Month
National Library Lovers Month
National Macadamia Nut Month
National Mend a Broken Heart Month
National Parent Leadership Month
National Senior Independence Month
National Snack Food Month
National Sweet Potato Month
National Therapeutic Recreation Month
National Time Management Month
National Weddings Month
National Women Inventors Month
North American Inclusion Month (NAIM)
Pet Dental Health Month
Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month
Potato Lovers Month
Pull Your Sofa Off the Wall Month
Raynaud's Awareness Month
Relationship Wellness Month
Responsible Pet Owners Month
Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
Spay/Neuter Awareness Month
Spiritual Teachers Month
Spunky Old Broads Month
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Vegan Cuisine Month
Wise Health Care Consumer Month
Youth Leadership Month
Harry Styles’s birthday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.