by Debbie Hommel, BA, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS is the Executive Director of DH Special Services 

(January 19-24, 2014)

Professional recognition days can be viewed from various perspectives….we can hope to be taken out to lunch, surprised with a bagel breakfast or flowers; or we can view this week as an opportunity to communicate and share the meaning, value and benefits of what therapeutic activities has to offer.

Sure, it’s nice to go out to lunch and get presents – but in many cases, this does not happen. Rather than sit back and wait for the “royal treatment”, use this week as an excuse to “toot your own horn”. Consider the following ideas to recognize and promote the value of therapeutic activities:

Ideas for National Activity Professionals Week

1. Conduct an inservice, but create a celebratory atmosphere. Serve refreshments, decorate festively, and have door prizes. Provide information regarding the benefits of activities and

create displays with materials and photographs. Give out promotional items related to NAPW.

2. Create a video emphasizing the benefits of each activity. Set the video up in the lobby, play it continuously with a poster, tri-board or printed materials explaining NAPW.

3. Plan an “Activity Open House”. Send out invitations and have display areas set up in your recreation room which emphasize the value of therapeutic activities.

4. Create a photo gallery of activities and outline their benefits on a main bulletin board or thoroughfare.

5. Create posters and signs for display throughout the building. Positive Promotions has a number of themes on their merchandise for the week including : “Activity Professionals Celebrate Life Everyday”, “Activity Professionals Bringing Joy to Life”, and “Activity Professionals Putting Fun in Life” are a few.

6. Conduct an “Activity Scavenger Hunt”. Create a game card for staff/residents/families to complete certain tasks. To get credit for the tasks, the activity staff needs to authorize the cards. Tasks may include bringing a resident to an activity, having a cup of coffee in the activity room, sitting and doing a 1-1 activity with a resident and other related, interdisciplinary activity tasks. After the games cards are completed, they are placed into a drawing.

The drawing for a winner may be conducted at a party or reception at the end of the week.

7. Conduct an “Activity Trivia Game” which is similar to the scavenger hunt. Trivia questions can be related to your activity program, staff or the benefits of activities. Again, the completed game sheets are submitted, with possible winners being drawn daily.

8. Create an open mural where staff, families and residents can write their thoughts about activities. A large roll/sheet of white paper can be hung on a plain wall, with an attached marker on a string. The heading of the paper may be the theme “Staying in Tune with Activities”. A question under the theme can encourage people to write what activities means to them. This approach works well in facilities where there is strong camaraderie and respect.

If morale is poor or relationships are not strong, some of the comments may be unkind.

9. This idea was contributed by Shannon, a NJ Activity Director. She created a display and coordinated an inservice – called “The Gifts of Activities”. She gathered decorative gift boxes of varying sizes and placed items and photos into each box. The items were related to specific types of activities. For example, in the “Creative Box” – there were samples of craft projects, adaptive devices and photos of residents involved in crafts. The display was arranged in the lobby and was very visually appealing. Shannon shared her residents were intrigued by the content of the boxes and the benefits they were deriving from the activities.

10. Plan an “Activity Olympics”. Each day of the week can offer various activities related to a particular activity domain. For example, Monday may be “Mental Aerobics Day”; while Tuesday may be “Let’s Get Physical Day”. Each day will focus on the various activities in that domain,with emphasis on the benefits. Contests and challenges can be integrated into the program plan.

Finally, celebrate as a department and with your professional peers. Have a luncheon or private celebration for your department (even if administration doesn’t arrange it.)

Activity Directors can purchase recognition materials as gifts for their staff.

And if you are going this alone – give yourself the gift of professional membership and affiliation. If you are not a member of your local, State or National Activity or Recreation Association – treat yourself to a membership in honor of our week. Membership in professional organizations provides the Activity Professional with support, current information, state of the art resources and validation for the work that we do.