Therapeutic Recreation & Accommodation Services

Our mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities by providing community recreational and leisure opportunities and promoting lifelong skills.  

We provide accommodations and supports for inclusion of individuals with disabilities and medical or health conditions into programs offered by Howard County Recreation & Parks.  These supports and accommodations include but are not limited to sign language interpreters, adaptive equipment, specialized training for staff, and increasing the staff to participant ratio.

Howard County’s Therapeutic Recreation (TR) programs and services are designed to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities, enhance quality of life, and develop leisure and recreation skills such as socialization, decision making, independent life skills, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

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Accommodation Services
Title
Inclusion Services
Content

The Department of Recreation and Parks is a recognized leader in opportunities for individuals with disabilities and is pleased to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to register for general recreation programs of their choice. Howard County Recreation & Parks Department has developed an inclusion process to better accommodate Howard County residents with disabilities. This process has been recently updated. To ensure that we meet your program needs, please call Victoria Taylor, Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor 410-313-4708 [email protected] or Susan Potts, Therapeutic Recreation Manager 410-313-4628 [email protected] at least two weeks before the program begins to request accommodation services.

Title
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Accommodations Information
Content

Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks' Therapeutic Recreation division strives to ensure quality and excellent programs and services to individuals with disabilities.  

The Department will continue to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to enjoy programs, services, and activities. We strive to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all participants. Please note the accommodation requests are considered on an individual basis and determined by the needs of the individuals and the program they are participating in. 

Conduct that jeopardizes the safety of others will not be tolerated and may result in removal from our programs. Additional Coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions and mandates may not be modified due to the direct threat and safety concerns to mitigate and contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Behaviors that may jeopardize the safety of others including but not limited to:

1. Refusal to wash hands and practice hygiene or using hand sanitizer independently. 
2. Refusal to wear facial covering if required.
3. Refusal to stay in a designated area (classroom; outside pavilion).
4. Inability to follow social / physical distancing practices.
5. Touching peers or staff.
6. Inability to function in a program ratio of 13:2 or 14:1, staff to participant ratio. 

Participants must be independent with personal care and hygiene practices. If participants are not independent, a family member or designee may be called to provide this accommodation at camp.

The Department of Recreation and Parks is a recognized leader in opportunities for individuals with disabilities and is pleased to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to register for general recreation programs of their choice. Howard County Recreation & Parks has developed an inclusion process to better accommodate Howard County residents with disabilities.

This process has been recently updated. To ensure that we meet your program needs, please call Victoria Taylor, Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor 410-313-4708 or Susan Potts, Therapeutic Recreation Manager 410-313-4628 at least two weeks before the program begins to request accommodation services.

Come live, learn, and Choose Your Fun! 

Title
How to Request Accommodations
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  1. Choose Your Fun!  Look through the seasonal activity guide and find a class or program you or your family member would like. Howard County Recreation & Parks has a multitude of programs to choose from. You are always welcome to call us if you would like some guidance when choosing a program.

  2. Once you know what program you’d like to participate in, the next step is to register. When registering, let it be known that you will need an accommodation and make a note of whether or not you are a Howard County resident. (Those that are not a Howard County resident are welcome to participate in our programs, yet additional staff will not be provided. We will try to train staff the existing staff for out-of-county residents.) You may register online, over the phone, or in person at any of our community centers or headquarters.

  3. Once registered for a program, the next step is to request an accommodation through our Accommodations PortalThis portal will ask you for information about the program you have registered for as well as what type of accommodation you are requesting. A notification will be sent to the Therapeutic Recreation team when your request has been submitted.

  4. After your request has been made through our portal, an Accommodation Assessment link will be sent to you via email or the postal service. This assessment needs to be completed two weeks prior to the start of a program. This assessment will allow our team to better serve you and your loved one and gives our staff more information on how to make a program a success.

    1. Note: You only need to complete the Accommodation Assessment once a year; you must send all accommodation requests through the Accommodation Portal for each and every program (and section, for example, a child registered for the same camp two weeks in a row will need to put in two requests).

  5. Once our team has received the completed Accommodation Assessment, we will reach out to you within five business days with a phone call or an email confirming your request and to discuss strategies for inclusion. Please remember that increasing the staff-to-participant ratio is never guaranteed and is judged on a case-by-case basis. We will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations on an individual basis.

    1.  Please note that all required paperwork must be completed for requests to be reviewed.

If you would like to check the status of your request or if you have any questions regarding inclusion services, feel free to contact our therapeutic recreation team. We would be happy to help!

Come live, learn, and Choose Your Fun! 

Title
Contact Us
Content

Susan Potts, MS, CTRS, Therapeutic Recreation & Accommodation Services Manager
410-313-4628

Victoria Taylor, CTRS, Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor
410-313-4708

Anastasia Pyzik, CTRS, Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor
410-313-1671

Rachel Curry, Therapeutic Recreation Leader
410-313-4623

Title
ADA Complaint or Grievance Procedure
Content

The Department of Recreation and Parks is pleased to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. This federal law was designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. All programs offered by the Department are open to individuals with disabilities provided basic program requirements are met (i.e., age). Reasonable accommodations will be made by the Department of Recreation and Parks to facilitate an individual’s participation in a program. The purpose of the ADA Grievance Procedure is to provide an opportunity for the general public to present their concerns/grievances to the Department regarding an ADA compliance issue that directly involves the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.

 

How to File a Complaint

The complaint should be submitted in writing by the complainant and/or their designee as soon as possible but no later than 30 calendar days after the alleged violation. Complaints may be submitted through the online form or mailed to:

Manager, Therapeutic Recreation & Accommodation Services
Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks
7120 Oakland Mills Road
Columbia, MD 21046

Therapeutic Recreation
Title
Programs
Content

Howard County’s Therapeutic Recreation (TR) programs and services are designed to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and develop leisure and recreation skills such as socialization, decision making, independent life skills, self-confidence and self-esteem, and enhance one’s quality of life. The TR programs are highly structured and designed with specific outcomes. The use of adapted equipment and activities accompanied by a high staff/participant ratio enables outcomes to be achieved and for individuals to reach maximum potential. Please see program descriptions for participation criteria.

Title
Virtual Programs
Content

Therapeutic Recreation virtual programs take place online through your device in a quiet area of your home. Each virtual program consists of open dialog and guided interaction among participants in groups of varying sizes.

Free virtual program orientation sessions are available by request for those wanting to participate in our virtual programs. We will walk you through connecting to a meeting, user controls, chat options and what to expect during virtual programs. To request an orientation session, contact Rachel Curry, [email protected], 410-313-4623.

Keep the following guidelines in mind to improve your virtual meeting:

  • Sit within camera view.
  • Keep your device stationary.
  • Use a headset with microphone for optimal audio quality.
  • Mute the microphone if your environment becomes noisy.
  • Use a wired internet connection when possible.
  • Refrain from multitasking while in the meeting.
  • Close any background applications on your device.
Title
Sensory Friendly Resources at Robinson Nature Center
Content

The Robinson Nature Center welcomes your family's visit. In partnership with Leadership Howard, Howard County Recreation & Parks' Therapeutic Recreation program and the Howard County Autism Society, we have developed visual, social, communicative and sensory supports for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder as well as developmental, sensory and learning differences. You will find these supports throughout the nature center and can read more about them below. Additionally, we offer regular training opportunities for our staff and volunteers on how to accommodate children and adults with developmental, sensory and learning differences. We hope our staff, volunteers and tangible supports help your family to have a successful visit and leave you feeling happy and eager to return and to continue exploring nature as a family.

Sensory Backpacks
Upon request, we have sensory backpacks at our front desk for your family's use. The backpacks contain noise-reducing headphones, sensory fidgets and a Robinson "Nature Explorer" badge. You will also find a copy of  our sensory friendly building map and information about Howard County's Therapeutic Recreation program inside the bags. 

These bags are free for use throughout your visit. All we ask is that you leave a drivers license or other ID at the front desk which will be returned to you upon your departure. 

Orientation
If you are planning a visit with a child who has special needs, you may call 410-313-0400 ahead of your visit to notify our front desk. When you arrive and check in with the front desk, they can provide you with more information on the visual/sensory supports available and/or check your family out a sensory backpack to enhance your child's experience at the Nature Center. If you would like any items removed from your backpack, please mention when you call ahead and we can have the backpack ready when you arrive.

Sensory Friendly Building Map
The maps below show our building's quiet areas and headphone zones and give an idea of what to expect in each area of our building. Click on the links below to preview the picture-based map or the text-based map.

Quiet Areas and Headphone Zones
Our Headphone Zones are locations where we expect the noise level to be higher due to exhibit sounds or due to high use on busier days. These are areas where those sensitive to loud noises might prefer to use noise-dampening headphones.

Our Quiet Areas are places where we expect the noise level to be reduced. If you’re looking for an area to unwind, these locations are the best to visit indoors. Getting out on our trail system can also provide a very relaxing experience.

Social Narrative
Preview, download, print and/or read the social narrative below about visiting the Nature Center with your child. This narrative covers what to expect during the visit and provides pictures of different areas indoors and outdoors to help your family prepare for your visit.

Planetarium Visit/Social Narrative
If you will be joining us for a planetarium program or are booking a group visit with this component, see the planetarium visit social narrative below. Please call 410-313-0400 ahead of your visit if you would like to reserve a bean bag seat, soft blanket, fidget items or a weighted item for your child’s lap. To find out when planetarium programs are offered, see our Programs page.

Sample Itineraries 
Check out our suggested itineraries for your visit based on how much time you anticipate spending at the Nature Center. These itineraries are for a general day visit and do not include programs, which you are welcome to peruse on our Program page. If you are booking a visit for a group of 10 or more, please see our field trip offerings or call our front desk at 410-313-0400 to book a general visit for your group.

Survey
We would love to hear how your visit to the Robinson Nature Center went, and any improvements that could be made to help you feel more welcome and at ease. Contact us at 410-313-0400 or click here to take our brief online survey. During your visit, should you utilize a sensory backpack, there is a card with a QR code that also links to our sensory friendly visit survey. Thank you for your feedback!

Team

Susan L. Potts, MS, CTRS
Therapeutic Recreation & Accommodation Services Manager
Victoria Taylor, CTRS
Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor
Anastasia Pyzik, CTRS
Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor
Rachel Curry
Therapeutic Recreation Leader
Tags
Recreation & Parks

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